Siemens sees growth in enterprise Wi-Fi equipment

Although Siemens has had some issues centered around its wireless operations recently -- selling its handset division to Taiwan's BenQ at a huge loss -- the company saw increased quarterly results recently on strong demand for its enterprise mobility and WLAN products.

Siemens saw more than 125% growth and has bulked up its enterprise offerings to meet increased demand, and the German telecom juggernaut hopefully will see its fortunes continue to rise. After all, enterprise Wi-Fi is doing anything but going away.

St. Louis County considering wireless network

Missouri's St. Louis County, which (of course) includes the city of St. Louis, is considering a wireless network that would cover the entire 524-square-mile area.

As of now, the St. Louis Economic Development Collaborative is working with NetLabs of St. Louis to study what the needs of the county are, as well as how much it would cost to develop and deploy a wireless network.

Those involved with the project so far say that a network can potentially bring economic opportunities to the area and will bridge the digital divide. It all depends on the results of the study and how government leaders will interpret it.

Opposition to SF's WiFi network remains strong

Although chances are good that the proposed San Francisco wireless network that will be built and operated by EarthLink and Google will eventually pass muster with the city's Board of Supervisors, opposition to the project still remains strong among a number of citizens and interest groups.

This particular editorial makes the argument that, among its faults:

  • The network is slow
  • Not everyone will be able to access it
  • The city will be bound to its agreement with Google and EarthLink for a number of years
  • The fees being paid by EarthLink will not amount to much

While there are some legitimacies to these points, a credible alternative has not yet been put forward. There have been calls for the city to build the network itself and lease connections to companies who, in turn, will provide individual access accounts to users, but that seems extremely complex and, frankly, do citizens really want their city government to get into the wireless network business?

At this point, it seems that the deal will go through in San Francisco. We have to remember that citywide wireless is still in its early stages and, to the disappointment to some, there will be some bumps and bruises along the way.

NextPhase rolls out integrated services in California

NextPhase Wireless is moving into the Caifornia market as it rolls out its nationwide expansion plans.

But, its first stab at the California marketplace won't deal with wireless introduction at the start.

Initially, NextPhase will be offering dial-up, DSL and T1 lines to customers, and then will move into the realm of offering a full portfolio of broadband connectivity services -- like integrated Internet, voice and data communications.

Minneapolis wireless network deployment ahead of schedule

Things seem to be moving along just fine when it comes to the pending citywide wireless network in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

According to access provider US Internet, construction of the network is ahead of schedule, and it appears that service may begin in parts of the city as early as this April instead of June. Other sections of the area will be phased in over time, but this obviously is a good sign for supporters of the network.

In addition, the neighboring city of St. Paul is looking at building a network of its own, but there has been no word as to what particular actions city officials will take to get the process moving.

TWR's Top 5

It's been another wild and wooly week at The Wireless Report. Here are our top 5 stories of the week. Enjoy!

  1. 1 billion wireless handsets sold in 2006
    2006 was a banner year in the wireless handset industry, as 1 billion of them were sold last year globally. The market jumo was due mostly to low-end shipments to emerging countries, but still.
  2. Atlanta chooses EarthLink to build citywide wireless network
    Score another big-city win for EarthLink. The company was selected by the city of Atlanta, Georgia to build and manage a citywide wireless network. The contract has to be worked on and agreed to by the local government, so at this point, a definite timeframe has not yet been established, but one would guess we will see a timeline very soon.
  3. My personal mobile carrier experiences (spoiler: long post)
    Well, it's been a long time coming, but the below post sums up my personal experiences -- as objectively as possible -- with the top three mobile carriers in my area. I've used them all for a few months now (in my home market of Oklahoma City and while traveling) and have come to a conclusion and a rating for each.
  4. Editorial says SF wireless network naysayers have no credible alternative plan
    Just came across this GREAT editorial in today's San Francisco Chronicle regarding the city's board of supervisors and their upcoming "examination" of the citywide wireless network contract.
  5. The lowdown on low-cost wireless handsets
    Every wireless handset maker is trying to bring down the cost of handsets these days -- for lower costs of manufacturing (of course) and also to feed the need for emerging markets that need low-cost handsets -- and hundreds of millions of them.

No wireless system for Boeing's 787 Dreamliner

When it comes to leveraging wireless technology for its aircraft fleet, Boeing has been having a rough go of it lately.

Last year, the company discontinued its Connexion service, which offered WiFi access to passengers in a number of European and Asian air routes, mainly because it did not deliver an effective return on their investment.

This week, Boeing has decided to put aside its plans to develop a wireless entertainment system for its new 787 Dreamliner jet. The problem is that the equipment weighs about 200 pounds, whereas a similar wired system would weigh only 50 pounds. In addition, there have been concerns about getting approval to access wireless frequencies from the over 100 countries the jet would be flying in and out of, as well as the overall quality of service that could be delivered to passengers.

The Dreamliner is expected to make its first flight by the summer, so there is a possibility that this wireless system could be revisited, but it doesn't seem likely for the near future.

Atlanta chooses EarthLink to build citywide wireless network

Score another big-city win for EarthLink. The company was selected by the city of Atlanta, Georgia to build and manage a citywide wireless network. The contract has to be worked on and agreed to by the local government, so at this point, a definite timeframe has not yet been established, but one would guess we will see a timeline very soon.

EarthLink is headquartered in Atlanta, so it wouldn't be a stretch to say that they had a distinct advantage over other bidders in the process. However, EarthLink has long proved itself as the major player in the muni WiFi sector, and their selection surely was based more on merit than in the city getting a "hometown discount" on their services.

As with other networks EarthLink has built or is in the process of building, users will be able to access the netowrk with upload/download speeds of up to 1 Mbit per second for a monthly fee. In addition, the company will look to partner with the city in order to provide service for those folks who don't have ready access to the internet.

(Thanks Jerry!)

City officials in Waltham, Mass. proposing wireless network

City councilors in Waltham, Massachusetts are getting behind a resolution to bring a citywide wireless network to the area. The resolution is being referred to the town's E-Committee to study, and also to figure out how much it will cost.

Councilors believe a wireless network will spur economic development as well as increase public safety. They cited an example where wireless-internet connected cameras can be mounted throughout the city so that any suspicious actions can be monitored by the local police and responded to quickly.

Texas Instruments to see lower growth in 2007

The venerable wireless chip king (among other kings) said recently that it will probably see a softer 2007 than it was expecting, driven in part weak ship sales this year. As a results, TI will be slashing 500 jobs.

Is the mobile handset biz really going to be that soft? Motorola and Samsung think so, as both had rather disappointing quarters even as shipments grew (meaning: more chips, right?).

I highly doubt mobile phone sales growth will diminish -- especially in emerging markets -- but there are so many signs from industry leaders that this will be happening I guess we'll all see this year, eh?

Apple to charge for faster WiFi access in newer MacBooks

I find this hard to believe, but there are some rumors out there claiming that Apple will be charging a pittance ($5) to "turn on" the faster 802.11n Wi-Fi chip already sitting in many MacBook and MacBook laptop systems.

But then again, Apple did confirm that it plans to charge customers a fee to download software that will enable the 802.11n capability in the Wi-Fi chips found in some MacBook and MacBook Pro systems in a statement last week.

Why on earth would Apple want to charge such a small amount and risk irking some consumers over what appears to be some odd way to recoup costs? Beats me.

Gigabeam cuts staff, reorganizes business units

The pace of technological change never slows in the wireless industry, and an announcement by Gigabeam to streamline its business strategy yields that thought again. The maker of WiFiber wireless fiber technology deployments said that it will be re-thinking its strategy amid the cutting of some staff.

In addition, Gigabeam will be moving its staff to a new corporate headquarters in North Carolina. It will also be consolidating operations there along with research and development and customer service activities.

Of course, it will keep its primary manufacturing facility in Sunnyvale, California in Silicon Valley.

Businesses may be spending more on wireless

With the telecom budgets for many companies under scrutiny - like any other piece of a company's budget -- many companies said that more of their telecom budgets may be spent on wireless services. No surprise here.

Businesses increasingly want employees to be "on call" and working from just about anywhere -- on vacation, at a little league game, at home in front of the TV and so forth. The way to accomplish that? Make more access wireless and spend more in that arena. Duh.

Editorial says SF wireless network naysayers have no credible alternative plan

Just came across this GREAT editorial in today's San Francisco Chronicle regarding the city's board of supervisors and their upcoming "examination" of the citywide wireless network contract.

As we've noted here before, some supervisors have some major concerns about the network, including privacy and the free/fee-paid service platforms. However, as this editorial suggests, no one has come across with a viable alternative plan.

There have been thoughts on having the city build the network itself, or partnering with nonprofit groups to do it, but it's going to cost at least $10 million to $15 million to build the network. So why not have people who know what they're doing do it?

There's no guarantee that a citywide wireless network will be a panacea that will bring everyone together in a digital universe, but until a credible alternative plan is put forward, then the naysayers should try to work with what is already here and make the best of it.

Concerns over the "investment" SF wireless network users will have to make

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors will begin examining the contract between the city and EarthLink and Google this week that proposes to develop and deploy a citywide wireless network.

Under the terms of the contract, EarthLink will build and maintain the network at a cost of $15 over the next 10 years, and Google will create a free service for residents that will feature upload/download speeds of 300 kbits per second. EarthLink will offer an enhanced service at 1 Mbit per second at roughly $21 a month.

Despite the previously stated concerns regarding privacy and ownership of the network, some voices are now being raised regarding the investment users would have to assume in order to access the network. Estimates are that roughly one-third of residents would have to upgrade their computer equipment, including what is known as a "bridge" that will be rquired to access the network indoors. The device will cost between $50 to $100, but will be free to those users who opt for the paid service.

It's amazing that some people are now coming to the realization that they have to invest something in order to get something. You just can't turn on your computer and PRESTO!, you have wireless access. Here's hoping there will be better user education information sent to the public in the near future so they will have all the details needed to make the right choice for their own particular needs.

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