Ruckus Wireless unveils Wi-Fi router/repeater

The name we all love to love -- Ruckus Wireless -- wants you to be able and bridge those outdoor, citywide WiFi networks and those indoor, ad-hoc networks into a single point of connectivity.

How? Why, the company has developed a single device that captures outdoor Wi-Fi signals from a metro network and re-broadcasts them in the home for end-users. In other words, this is a built-in Wi-Fi router (?) and Wi-Fi repeater in one unit.

Merry Christmas to one and all!

We're taking a bit of a break to be with our loved ones over the holiday, and we hope you are too. A very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you, and we'd like to pass along a heartfelt "Thank You" for your readership. We'll be back posting again tomorrow once we can burn off some of the egg nog!

Europe gives thumbs-up to UWB

Ultra wideband technology, which has sort of fallen by the wayside ever since the effort to define a single standard fell through a while back, may have gotten some much-needed momentum with the approval by the European Commission's Radio Spectrum Committee to allow UWB to be used on the continent.

Despite a number of issues raised by some groups who argue that UWB has the potential to interfere with other wireless services because it transmits low power over a wide band of spectrum, the EU says it will allow supporters and manufacturers of UWB-enabled products to move forward to eventually introduce it into the marketplace sometime next year.

Of course, after all of the battling to define a single standard, it remains to be seen if in the long run UWB can gain any sort of niche in the wireless arena. Even though the Bluetooth Special Interest Group has seen fit to align itself with UWB supporters, it may not be enough to sustain it over the long haul. But, we'll just have to wait and see how it all shakes out.

Standard television set still best place for viewing video

With all the recent moves in the mobile multimedia space, is there a large challenge in front of the wireless industry to get folks to move their video habits off the standard television and onto the mobile handset? Will customers continue to bite?

A recent report stated that 60% of the population still prefer to watch video on a standard television instead of over the Internet or via cellphone (big surprise). Although, it was also found in the same study that 26% of the population also said Internet access has changed the way they watch television and video.

This brings up the question -- will advertising continue to drop off the television airwaves and into new media and technologies? Perhaps -- perhaps not.

Study says UWB, ZigBee chipset sales to increase over next three years

A new study from Frost and Sullivan indicates that sales of ultrawideband (UWB) and ZigBee chipsets will increase significantly over the next three years.

I can't help but be a bit skeptical over this new research. We've seen over the past couple of years the turf war over the definition of a single standard for UWB, and that effort fell right on its face. Plus, we were supposed to see a slew of products being released over the course of this year, including those dealing with home entertainment. So far, we haven't seen anything yet. To be fair, we do have a few months left in the year and the holiday shopping season around the corner, so there is still time left for this wireless technology to make some sort of impact on the marketplace.

With regard to ZigBee, it definitely is finding a niche in the home automation market, especially in the security/alarm sector. It doesn't appear that ZigBee will ever become a "hit" like Bluetooth, but if it can find a couple of strong niches to park itself in, that will be just fine for its supporters.

Omaha going wireless

The city of Omaha, Nebraska is working in concert with the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) to develop and deploy a free wireless network that would be available in certain parts of the city.

The plan is to offer coverage beyond the college's campus to the city's riverfront and Old Market as well as areas that house low-income residents.

According to city officials, the goal of Wireless Omaha is to bring wireless internet access to all who want it as well as to bridge the digital divide. In addition, the network is targeted to those who would use it for e-mail and web surfing and not advanced applications.

The network is being funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation and the partners are looking for other funding to deploy the network.

Wireless signals that penetrate deep underground

With the London terrorist bombings last summer, the concern of ensuring wireless signals were able to traverse through layers of the earth became an important priority. Well, Vital Alert Technologies of the UK has partnered with Los Alamos National Laboratory in the U.S. to develop radio services which can work underground be transmitting through solid earth.

The new technology uses Very-Low Frequency (VLF) to transmit radio signals carrying compressed audio and data signals through layers of the earth and is apparently very inexpensive to build, according to the Los Alamos engineer who originally developed the technology.

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!

TWR's Top 5

As we charge into the Memorial Day weekend and right into the glorious summer season, here are five stories from the past week that will get your juices flowing. Enjoy!

  1. The Wireless Report Podcast -- May 24, 2006
    We are pleased to bring you the fourth installment of The Wireless Report Podcast. We'll be talking about all the recent developments in citywide WiFi -- including talking about Phoenix, Philadelphia and New York City. Additionally, we'll cover New York City's "Central Park" WiFi experiment -- and we'll cover the recent National Security Agency (NSA) situation regarding possible wiretap illegalities, and how this could encroach into wireless carriers here in the U.S. -- but we sure hope not.
  2. EarthLink wins approval to build wireless network in New Orleans
    The rebuilding of New Orleans continues as EarthLink has won approval from the City Council to build a wireless network within a 15-square-mile area. As with similar networks they are building in cities such as Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Anaheim, the network will have a free service and a paid service tier. The free service will be available for a limited time at speeds up to 300kbs, and the paid service will offer speeds up to 1 mpbs.
  3. Will customers buy -- and watch -- mobile TV?
    We've said it before -- for mobile television to take off, there must be a unified standard and the cost must be priced right. Looking at the current situation, we're not even close. With MediaFLO and DVB-H standing out as the two standards, and will many mobile television standards sitting around waiting for business, when will the industry get it together and make things easier than this?
  4. Secure your home wireless network or else this will happen to you
    We've warned you before about the perils of wireless signal piggybacking and how if you do have a home wireless network, you should take every step necessary to protect it from being hacked by "piggybackers" aka burglars. Here's another example of why you should.
  5. Egad! Wireless complaints dropped in first quarter of 2006
    We generally hear about the rise in complaints against the wireless companies -- particularly against the top players like Cingular and Verizon Wireless (probably because they are easy targets). But in the first quarter of this year, wireless complaints and inquiries both dropped from the fourth quarter of 2005.

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.

FCC delays upcoming AWS auction until August

With all the hubbub about the upcoming advanced wireless services (AWS) auction happening on June 29th -- Time Warner and Clearwire were among the participants -- the FCC has moved that auction until August for some unknown reason. Yeah, right.

The upcoming auctions were probably the most important in the last decade for all kinds of telecommunications companies, from established wireless players to cable companies to mobile broadband internet to mobile television companies.

This auction was not just about cellular bandwidth -- it was much more than that. Although it will be delayed, we expect some neat developments once it does happen, along with fireworks-type bidding.

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.

Study says UWB still has a pulse

We haven't talked much about ultra wideband (UWB) technology in quite a while here. When the competition to define and ratify a single standard broke off last year, some analysts thought this was a near-death blow to the technology.

However, it seems that the fact there are two competing standards hasn't fazed manufacturers from building devices embedded with UWB. A new study from ABI Research indicates that roughly 300 million devices with UWB will be shipped by 2011, proving that the technology still remains viable.

But, needless to say, there may be some storm clouds on the horizon. Factors such as global spectrum and regulatory approval, along with cost, power consumption, and and chip size, have to be considered.

In any event, despite all the difficulties, UWB still has a pulse, and we should be a variety of products on the market in the near future.

Bluetooth/UWB products to emerge by 2007

This isn't exactly breaking news, but it still is an interesting development. The Bluetooth Special Industry Group (SIG) and the WiMedia Alliance are announcing they will be working with their respective member companies to develop products that will incorporate both Bluetooth and ultra wideband technologies in order to boost transmission speed. As a result, products like cellphones and iPods will be able to download and play large video files, among other types of files.

According to the SIG, products should be entering the marketplace by late 2007 (just in time for the holiday shopping season?) with more to come the following year. As Bluetooth has evolved into a nearly ubiquitous technology, especially for cellphones, it seems this melding with UWB would bode well for both to grow and continue to penetrate the marketplace. Ultra wideband has been trying to gain a toehold in the wireless marketplace, and especially with the battle over the definition of a standard, it certainly seems like a step in the right direction.

USB Is Going Wireless Using Ultra Wideband

The battle many of us have fought for 20 years with our PCs may soon change. The battle, that is, to get rid of the rat's nest of cables snaking everywhere behind and beside our PCs and laptops. Apple's PCs famously have minimized and even stylized this clutter, but for the rest of us with generic PCs, the cable mess is one we'd like to see go away.

So, when devices start shipping wit wireless USB later this year, PC owners 'round the world can rejoice. And then, of course, buy all new peripherals (maybe that's what the manufacturers want). Since the new wireless USB standard will be based on UWB, the potential for more interference - like we don't have enough of that already - should be minimized. So, it looks like UWB's breakthrough into the consumer space will be with the PC. Joy.

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