Gov. Schwarzenegger signs wireless networking privacy bill into law

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (it still feels a bit strange to say that!) has signed into law a bill that requires wireless home networking equipment manufacturers to alert consumers on how they can take steps to protect their personal information from being hacked by outsiders.

The bill, AB 2415, which goes into effect on October 1, 2007, will require that a warning label must be placed on these devices. In addition, it is expected that the manufacturers will make it known to users that maintaining open wireless networks carry a number of risks and that they must be made aware of the possible consequences.

Bluetooth billboards coming to a street near you

Would it be cool to pass by a Billboard on a busy metro walkway or street and have it send you a message through to your Bluetooth cellphone? The message could be asking you to opt-in to something or be a single-question survey. No, this is not the "Minority Report" scene with Tom Cruise's eyes, but it's getting there.

After all, the times when people are walking have been determined to be when some of us are most open to receiving new content (read: marketing messages). Nothing better than interrupting limited quiet time with a Bluetooth message, right? Seriously, this is a neat concept, but I'll hold back until it becomes more popular, if it does.


California legislators pass bill to increase awareness of home wireless network security to consumers

Folks in California who have set up their own home wireless networks may soon have a little more weaponry in their arsenal to keep piggybackers from hacking into their networks.

The California State Assembly has passed legislation requiring wireless manufacturers to place a warning label on laptops or other equipment such as routers that would provide instructions on how to protect personal files. The label could appear as:

• A warning sticker placed on the ports of a wireless router.
• A warning that appears when installing a wireless device.
• An alert that requires consumers to take action before the device is used.
• Or other, unspecified protections on the wireless connection.

Of course, it really is up to the individual to do all he or she can to secure their own wireless network, but at the very least a little extra nudge to take these steps is worth something.

Most home WiFi networks are still horribly insecure

Well, we've talked about this before, and here's yet another story that mentions how grotesquely inadequate security is on most home wireless computer networks. A study in home WiFi networks in Indianapolis found that a staggering 46 percent of the networks tested did not have any form of encryption turned on. That's almost half -- ripe for the hacking and taking.

This is a serious problem, one that is probably being under-reported. If identity theft was an issue before, it could explode by drive-by WiFi hackers to say the least. Manufacturers -- why of why can't you make it easier to -- by default -- have a mandatory wizard upon router setup that makes WEP, or better yet, WPA encryption, part of the required router setup?

It's true that customers should be responsible for setting this up, but with the unreal amount of techno-babble in most HTML-based home router setups I've seen, it's no wonder customers don't know how to setup WiFi security on their routers.

Cingular doesn't mind VoIP service over newly-launched 3G network

In a rather interesting twist to Cingular's HSDPA high-speed 3G network, its CTO Kristin Rinne said during the Wireless Leadership Decision Summit in New York that Cingular is not completely opposed to the idea of customers using VoIP services over its 3G network. Perhaps Cingular is just a little opposed?

Here's the deal -- if you buy unlimited use of Cingular's HSDPA service -- if you're lucky to be in a market now where it's offered -- data is data and packets are packets. Of course some tech-savvy customers are going to want to use VoIP over the Cingular 3G network, just as they will VPN their way into a company network while mobile.

Packets are packets, so unless Cingular is prepared to get very specific on what kind of packets may violate their TOS, let the VoIP use over HSDPA networks begin.

The Wireless Report Podcast -- June 28, 2006

We are pleased to bring you the eighth installment of The Wireless Report Podcast. We'll be talking about citywide WiFi -- in depth this time! -- in regards to tiered pricing offerings and how the business models need to evolve, we'll be talking about existing and upcoming 3G data services and how these may be competing with citywide WiFi and upcoming WiMAX services (that is, until 4G offerings come down the road).

Additionally, we'll also cover cultural differences that may be impacting the uptake of advanced wireless services like mobile television and mobile music downloads -- and if these services will lay around in the doldrums here in the U.S. and Europe or if they will eventually become faster and better with newer, speedier networks (and customer education).

There are several ways to receive The Wireless Report podcast: Subscribe via iTunes, subscribe to our RSS feed, or just hit the MP3 file directly -- your choice!

Receive TWR Podcast using one of these methods:
[iTunes] Subscribe to the podcast directly in iTunes
[RSS] Add The Wireless Report Podcast feed to your RSS feedreader and have it delivered automatically
[MP3] Download the podcast directly

Hosts
Brian White and Mike Sciannamea

File Format
1:14:41 length, 34.1MB size, MP3 format (64kbps)

Podcast Timeline
2:45  Digital Inclusion and what the "digital divide" is all about regarding WiFi "haves" and "have nots". What are the business models for citywide WiFi deployments?

28:15  Can Citywide WiFi survive as an advertising-supported service offering? MobilePro thinks not, but Google may be thinking yes

32:13  How wired broadband internet service "tiered" pricing -- DSL and cable modem service -- can translate to citywide WiFi possible "tiered" prices

35:05  A look at how evolving 3G networks worldwide may be "competing" against city/areawide WiFi and upcoming WiMAX networks -- until 4G comes along anyway

56:19  Are advanced mobile services like mobile television and mobile music downloads going to take off in the U.S. or Europe first? Or, possibly the PacRim area will take the lead

1:10:55
  Wrap-up and conclusion

FON says get your $5 wireless routers here

The Spanish company FON, which has worked to set up a worldwide network of shared WiFi connections among home users and small businesses, is announcing a plan to dole out 1 million wireless routers for $5 a pop.

According to the company, these "social routers" which are Cisco Linksys or Buffalo routers will help more people around the world set up their own hotspots using FON software in order to share wireless access with others. As of today, there are 54,000 people known as "foneros" who have signed up, an increase from 3,000 in February.

In exchange for receiving the router, users must agree to share their wireless connections with other FON users for 12 months. The company says the goal is to provide others opportunity for wireless access to the internet in areas where it is limited. In addition, the connection is free, so the price is certainly right.

Of course, those folks who do share their wireless connections with others need to make sure that they secure their own personal information or risk having that data stolen by others.

Bluetooth against Wireless USB -- the winner is?

With Bluetooth finally becoming a popular reality in many laptop computers and many more cellular phones, is Bluetooth on the verge of becoming a ubiquitous wireless technology like USB is to the personal computer world? The proponents of wireless USB don't want that to happen. But, then again, Bluetooth has a great lead and the adoption is already there.

With the older serial and parallel ports now all but gone from most PCs, the USB connection has replaced it for interconnecting almost anything to a PC. While FireWire is still great for fast transfer of digital data, peripheral interconnection is still held greatly by USB. However, there are still way too many cables anymore. Which wireless standard could win out here for getting rid of the cable mess? Bluetooth or wireless USB?

Another example of why you need to secure your wireless network

We've talked here many times about how folks should take every step necessary to protect their own home wireless networks from predators and freeloaders who will steal your personal information outright or use your network to do some unsavory things. Consider the story of two Florida woman whose wireless network was hacked into by someone at a local community college and was using their access to subscribe to porn sites. Pretty embarassing and unnerving, don't you think?

The linked story has a few more tips to help you keep your wireless network secure from intrusion. Obviously, there's no way you can be totally protected 100% of the time, but the point is that if you take just a few steps, the chances of being hacked will diminsh greatly.

Want a real home entertainment network without wires?

Just a few podcasts ago, I was talking about how nice it would be to have a "cable-free" home network solution for consumer electronics and audio/video gear. Well, in steps Tzero, a Silicon Valley company that seems to have a solution for this exact problem.

The Tzero chipset features UWB (ultra wideband) technology to interconnect home consumer electronics gear that meets the stringent wired specifications for transfer and interference set forth by the large consumer electronics companies. It's good to see that UWB, as a technology, is not dead yet, and this appears to be a perfect solution to the home electronics debacle of wires most consumers face.

With up to 480Mbps transfer rate, everything from hi-def video to 6-channel surround audio should be no match for Tzero's UWB chipset. Thank you, thank you. Now, if we can just get *any* manufacturer to start implementing this!

The Wireless Report Podcast -- June 1, 2006

Greetings folks,

We are pleased to bring you the fifth installment of The Wireless Report Podcast. We'll be talking about the upcoming FCC wireless auctions (some of the most important auctions to come along in quite some time), North Dakota being the first state to have more wireless telephone numbers than landline telephone numbers, the deal with E911 and why the major wireless carriers still have not implemented this technology -- and finally, we'll cover the need for wireless connectivity options for stereo and home theater equipment.

There are several ways to receive The Wireless Report podcast: Subscribe via iTunes, subscribe to our RSS feed, or just hit the MP3 file directly -- your choice!

Receive TWR Podcast using one of these methods:
[iTunes] Subscribe to the podcast directly in iTunes
[RSS] Add The Wireless Report Podcast feed to your RSS feedreader and have it delivered automatically
[MP3] Download the podcast directly

Hosts
Brian White and Mike Sciannamea

File Format
59:39 length, 27.3MB size, MP3 format (64kbps)

Podcast Timeline
1:50    The upcoming FCC advanced wireless services (AWS) auctions -- what's going on?
19:30  North Dakota now has more wireless numbers than landline numbers
34:00  E911 -- what is taking so long with 911 services for wireless carriers?
40:23  Wireless connectivity for home theater and stereo equipment -- still no solutions for the home
56:12  Wrap-up and conclusion

Is wireless home theater equipment next?

In what we can only hope becomes commonplace in the next five years or so, LG Electronics has announced a new wireless-equipped home theater system that includes floor-standing speakers, a subwoofer and a complete Dolby Digital/DTS amplifier/receiver. We're not quite sure which wireless technology this system uses (UWB, perhaps?), but it bodes well for the future nonetheless.

Although LG is not known in the U.S. for making higher-end home theater equipment, this package looks might nice -- and the cutting out of speaker cabling is an awesome feature. One thing that needs to permeate the home theater space is wireless technology -- but now, we'll still have to suffer through the spaghetti-mess of cables and cords.

UWB and Zigbee starting to finally make waves in the consumer markets

Two incredibly promising technologies -- one already in full use and the other gaining steam -- UWB (ultra wide band) and Zigbee (commercial deveice wireless communication standard) are starting to see more and more attention and adoption, which leads to record-breaking chipset shipments with the technology of both standards.

This article talks about how both standards are creating record chipset shipments based on customer demand. The customer in the Zigbee market is most likely commercial/industrial at this time, although automated home control connectivity is not that far on the horizon. UWB, which is needed more than anything, could replace USB and FireWire on PCs as well as the the rat's nest of wires for home stereo and surround setups, which we need more now than ever.

Vonage VoIP goes WiFi in Canada, eh!

Vonage -- you know, the commercial with the impossible-to-forget jingle -- has introduced WiFi-capable handsets into their product offering for Canadian customers. So now, you folks north of the U.S. needn't be tied to the wall while you slap the local telco in the face by using uber-cheap and portable voice over IP. But, we have to ask -- what's with the orange stub antenna?

Although this is just now being introduced in Canada, Vonage probably wants to expand beyond North America -- and who could blame them? Just take your Vonage handset with you and find a local WiFi hotspot anywhere in the world -- and the rest is history. Have your portable home telephone number and all your calling features available with you when traveling for a low monthly cost. The baby bells in the U.S. could not have envisioned a better foe. Market disruptions are fun, aren't they?

A 300Mbps wireless router? Um, ok!

Belkin seems to only want to sell more product instead of waiting for industry standards to materialize. Same old song I guess -- and it makes headlines when a company announces a "300 megabit per second router!", Not that there is a market for this yet, or even in the near future.

With the 802.11n spec still being finalized, why do these over-eager manufacturers release products way, way, way before their time. I fail to see the strategy on why they do this, especially with future upgradeability not being guaranteed. Give us a break, Belkin!

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