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February 9, 2005

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This Week's Top Stories
1. Cisco's price cut may wreck stand-alone AP market
2. Trend: VoWiFi to grow dramatically
3. Analysis: Curiouser and curiouser -- who's afraid of muni-WiFi?
4. Netgear shows 108 Mbps MIMO G wireless solution using Airgo's True MIMO
5. Intriguing way to power sensor networks: Environment's vibrational energy

Also Noted: Spotlight On... MIMO questions; VoWLAN QoS; O2 will roll out HSDPA; Nortel, RIM offer WiFi Blackberry; and much more...

Cisco continues to shape the field, this time with deep cuts in its AP line. Others with shallower pockets and less elbow room are hurting. VoWLAN continues to grow, both as a result of and as a drive for deeper WLAN penetration into the enterprise sector. The questions become more insistent: Who, exactly, is behind the anti-muni-wWiFi campaign? And engineers at the University of Southampton now offer an intriguing new way to power sensors networks.

Frank Sinatra is dead. So are Johnny Carson and Buddy Hackett, not to mention George Harrison, George Plimpton, and Jerry Garcia. One's childhood's landscape is inexorably changing. I can take that. But now AT&T is about to give up the ghost, and this really makes one pause and reflect. Paul Valery was right: "Dieu a tout fait de rien; mais le rien perce." I will write more about AT&T's journey next week. - Ben


 > Wireless Security Conference & Expo - April 19-21, Cambridge, MA
 > CONNECTIONS: The Digital Home Conference & Showcase - May 11-13, San Francisco
 > CTIA WIRELESS 2005 - March 14-16, New Orleans
 > Web Event - The New Prepaid Paradigm: VoIP, MVNOs and Stored Value Card - March 3, 1pm ET

 > What is actually happening in your wireless airspace?
 > Ultrawideband and Wireless Domains For Sale
 > AvaLAN 900MHz Ethernet Bridge – Superior NLOS range and 1.5Mbps data rate

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1. Cisco's price cut may wreck stand-alone AP market

Cisco Systems' deep price cuts of its Aironet AP line might have a "devastating" effect on the standalone AP market, says Unstrung Insider analyst Gabriel Brown. Cisco has been steadily discounting its Aironet AP line for a while now in order to secure its leadership position in the market (Cisco accounts for 43 percent of the global enterprise WLAN market, followed by Symbol). Cisco's new 1230 AP product is priced at $999 but is available for a street price of $650; Cisco's 1130 AP is priced at $699, but is available for $450 -- a 35 percent discount off the list price. The combination of Cisco's market dominance and the deep discounting of its products has resulted in a substantial fall in the average market price of stand-alone enterprise APs. Six months ago, enterprise-grade 802.11a/g APs commanded $840; now they post an average list price of $733. Street prices go as low as $400.

"The effect of this on competing vendors of standalone APs is likely to be devastating," Brown warns. "Aironet is the leading product line in the 'smart' AP segment, which has always sold at a premium, and if Cisco wants to drop its prices, traditional enterprise AP vendors such as 3Com, Enterasys, and Proxim are doomed to follow." The effect is already felt: Proxim adjusted fourth-quarter revenues downward, from a $32 million to $35 million target range to $22 million to $24 million. Proxim, once a leading enterprise WLAN vendor, was clear, and bitter, in its blame: Cisco's "unforeseen WiFi pricing action... and resulting pricing pressure" had contributed to "lower-than-expected WiFi product revenue."

For more on Cisco's AP pricing:
- see Gabriel Brown's Unstrung Insider report

PLUS: Cisco posted net income of $1.4 billion, or 21 cents per share, for the last quarter, up from $724 million, or 10 cents per share, for the second quarter of fiscal 2004. The company said home networking and IP telephony contributed to its strong performance. Report 

2. Trend: VoWiFi to grow dramatically

VoWLAN is steadily spreading through the enterprise sector, and a recent report says that the technology will see even more robust growth over the next four years. Infonetics Research's latest report says that 113,000 WiFi VoIP handsets were sold world-wide in 2004, bringing in $45 million. Infonetics estimates that global dual-mode WiFi/cellular handset revenue reached $6.6 million in 2004 with more than 8,000 handsets sold. We should note, though, that dual-mode WiFi/cellular handsets were commercially available only in the fourth quarter of 2004.

Both revenue and the number of handsets sold are projected to grow "dramatically" by 2009 as more enterprises offer employees flexible mobile access over different forms of wireless networks. Even though WiFi VoIP handsets currently represent only a small market, this market has "great potential across several market segments," Infonetics stated. Early adopters in the enterprise space will be in the logistics and healthcare verticals, where VoWLAN is already has some momentum. It will become even more wide-spread as both VoIP and WLAN adoption continues.

There is also potential for "enormous growth in the consumer space," as broadband service providers offer both VoIP services and wireless gateways bundled with a broadband connection. Infonetics' Richard Webb says that "voice over wireless internet devices have the potential to be a hugely disruptive technology, too... The traditional model of time and distance-based pricing for voice calls will be eroded by VoIP, and as VoIP goes wireless this will present a challenge not only to fixed line operators, but to mobile operators as well."

For more on Infonetics' VoWLAN report:
- see Robert Jaques' vnunet discussion

PLUS: Mobile VoIP is dramatically altering the telecommunications industry, according to research firm ON World. There are three developments combining to transform the telecom landscape: Low-powered single-chip radios with integrated protocol stacks; the adoption of standards such as SIP; and the promise of affordable flat rate roaming. There are already more than 400 VoIP service providers in North America. Release

ALSO: France Telecom launches residential VoIP Internet telephony service in Italy for customers with ADSL Internet access. Story

FINALLY: A study says that WiFi phones may some day fulfill their promise, but not any time soon. Story

3. Analysis: Curiouser and curiouser -- who's afraid of muni-WiFi?

As we reported last week, the New Millennium Research Council has sponsored much of the anti-municipal-WiFi campaign. Exhibit No. 1: Their recent report, titled "Not in the Public Interest -- The Myth of Municipal Wi-Fi Networks." During a press conference to announce the release of the report, Steven Titch, the report's author, rhetorically asked: "Whose internet does muni wireless subsidize?" He was quick with the answer: "The high-end professional's." He argued that traveling business people and their college-aged children will enjoy the benefits of free or heavily discounted service, while the majority of citizens, who are not equipped to take advantage of it, will be stuck paying the bills.

The fact is, the NMRC has a close personal and financial association with the telecom industry, which benefits from the absence of municipal broadband services. There is nothing wrong, of course, with the industry advocating its point of view on the issue. Freedom of speech is a value, but so also is truth in advertising. The NMRC has responded to the charges that it was colluding with the industry to push the industry's views: It has removed the list of board members from its website so as to make the association between the organization and industry more difficult to trace. Some response.

For more on the forces behind the anti-muni-WiFi campaign:
- see Thomas Greene's The Register discussion
- Glenn Fleishman's comments on the changes to the organization's website
For more on the NMRC:
- see the organization's website
- see the NMRC's latest anti-muni-WiFi report
For background on municipal WiFi clouds:
- see this informative dailywireless' analysis

4. Netgear shows 108 Mbps MIMO G wireless solution using Airgo's True MIMO

The MIMO train is moving forward with Santa Clara-based Netgear releasing a new line of MIMO G wireless products based on Airgo's True MIMO chipset. The solution, which will be available in Japan this month, includes the MIMO G Wireless Router (model WGM124) and PC Card (model WGM511). The WGM124 and WGM511 are compatible with 802.11b and 802.11g and are WiFi compliant. The router has three MIMO antennas, which offer better speeds and range, and the solution comes with Netgear's Smart Wizard which automates detection and connection to an ISP. It also offers security, using a double firewall with Network Address Translation (NAT) and Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI), along with WEP 64, 128-bit encryption and WPA. The router also offers privacy control and management features such as URL content filtering. In addition to offering the two new components in Japan, Netgear also offering the Airgo-based MIMO products in the US.

For more on Netgear's offering:
- see the press release

5. Intriguing way to power sensor networks: Environment's vibrational energy

British scientists have developed an intriguing solution to powering communication devices: scavenging vibrational energy from the environment. The ideal market for the solution would be ad-hoc sensor networks. Scientists at the University of Southampton said they could easily get 100 to 200µW of DC power, and that a trial has already been conducted with a device powering a 802.15.4 transmitter.

The scavenger consists of four magnets vibrating past a static coil, and a circuit (the details of which have not yet been disclosed) which includes low-drop diodes, capacitors, and voltage multipliers. It produces at least 100µW from 0.1g [gravity] vibration at between 50 and 200Hz. An adjustment screw makes it possible to set resonant frequency so that it coincides with available energy. Output voltage can be between two and three volts. There is another advantage: The scavenger does not have a problem getting over the threshold level to start, so there is no need for power to be stored internally.

The University of Southampton has spun-out a company, called Perpetuum, to market the solution. Perpetuum represents a breakthrough for the university's engineering department: researchers there had worked for a while now on piezoelectric generators but could not get sufficient power at the frequencies of interest.

For more on Perpetuum's solution:
- see Steve Bush's ElectronicWeekly report


MIMO may be the wave of 802.11 future, but in the meantime MIMO products do not do much more than muddle the wireless market. The speed claims of new networking products may confuse consumers, many of whom may not really need the technology. See David Haskin's thorough Mobilepipeline discussion and Tony Kistner's report.

> See this three-part discussion of VoWLAN QoS. Report

> World phones, in-flight services will boost wireless industry. Report

> Study: 3G, with more than 300 million subscribers and more than $200 billion in revenue in 2009, will drive the industry. Release

> O2 will roll out HSDPA (high-speed downlink packet access) on the Isle of Man and will consider WiMAX, too. Story

> Verizon to purchase 2,300 fixed broadband units from Alvarion to set up broadband service at the former Fort Ord military base in Monterey, California. Story

> Alvarion, Alcatel in OEM Deal. Report

> Beijing Airway selects ADAPTIX's products to launch China's first Pre-WiMax network. Release

> Pipemedia to offer VoIP iPBX, telephony service. Story

> Nortel, RIM offer WiFi Blackberry. Story

And Finally... Why standards are important for wireless security. Discussion


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