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Mae
| News and views on everything wireless and mobile, from WiFi and WiMAX to 3G and fixed-mobile convergence (FMC).

March 2007

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RSI ID Tech Intros New RFID-enabled Retail Display Cases

March 27, 2007

So much news coming out of CTIA today is flooding the newswires that I’m gonna do something unimaginable—blog about a news item I received today that’s not connected with the wireless show. Gasp!   Don’t worry, I’ll definitely be blogging about CTIA this week. Just not this second.   Okay, here goes…   RSI ID Technologies, which was founded in 1991, is primarily a manufacturer of RFID antennas, inlays and tags; it also offers a line of HF and UHF RFID labels, readers and software. The company’s self-described mission is to “deliver complete, innovative solutions to complex RFID problems across global markets.”   Today’s announcement from RSI ID Technologies targets the retail market: the company is now offering two RFID-enabled display cases, under the brand name Pressica, designed specifically for eyewear and jewelry.

CTIA Wireless News Starts Now

March 26, 2007

The CTIA Wireless 2007 show kicks off tomorrow in Orlando, Florida. Already the newswires are starting to get flooded with announcements from wireless industry companies promoting their latest products, services and achievements. A quick search on Google News for “ctia” turned up the following:
  • Announcement that the creator of BlackBerry (Mike Lazaridis) has replaced Motorola’s CEO (Ed Zander) as the CTIA keynoter.
  • Announcement from TCS that it has been selected as a CTIA Wireless 2007 E-Tech Award finalist.
  • Announcements from Pantech and Nokia about their displays at the show.
I’m bracing for continued deluge of news as the show gets underway, and will be blogging, albeit from afar, on events and news that catch my eye.

Chinese Government Embraces RFID

March 13, 2007

Asia generally, and China in particular, tends to get a lot of play in wireless/mobile technology news, because often the latest, coolest products originate from there. Usually, in this context, China is discussed regarding cell phones. But there are other wireless technologies out there for which the Chinese market is of interest.   Take radio frequency ID (RFID), for example. In a recent report, RNCOS (an India-based research and consultancy firm) examined the outlook for RFID in China, including government policies.

How to Quit Your Cell Phone Contract--Without Termination Fee

March 12, 2007

Okay, so you’ve decided to switch cell phone providers. Now, how to get out of your current contract without having to pay a hefty termination fee? A Dallas Morning News article Monday offered these techniques (obviously some more practical than others):
  • Pretend to die. Probably won’t work for Sprint, Verizon, or Cingular (AT&T); these companies may ask for a death certificate.



  • Join the military and get stationed overseas.

Sony's Cybershot G1 Camera: 6 Megapixels with WiFi

March 8, 2007

The buzz is just starting to take off this morning about Sony’s new Cybershot G1 digital camera, featuring built-in WiFi capabilities. Rumors have been circulating for weeks, apparently, about this new camera—evidently the result of details regarding Sony’s new digital camera lineup that were leaked to the Web on Feb. 20.   Now, it seems, the new is official. Engadget blogger Thomas Ricker wrote about the new camera this morning at 6:48 a.m.

Arthur D. Little: Telcos Failing to Capitalize on Mobile Web 2.0

March 7, 2007

The phrase, “build it and they will come” has been used to justify the creation of everything from shopping malls to communications services. Yet, if a new report from consultancy Arthur D. Little is correct, many telecom companies are unwilling or unable to go out on a perhaps not-so-thin limb when it comes to mobile information-sharing services that fall under the “Web 2.0” umbrella.   Arthur D. Little analyst Martyn Roetter said in the report that Web 2.0 services—which enable the creation and distribution of content instantaneously and globally in a way not previously imagined—are a key driver of today’s Internet growth, yet telcos are not jumping on board.   “In order to harness and monetize Web 2.0 the Telcos will have to rapidly address the needs of this community,” Roetter said in the report.   Roetter included this example of why telcos should be capitalizing on Web 2.0: “Younger Europeans are already showing their readiness to interact on the move, with 38 percent of them accessing e-mail from mobile devices, while Google launched Gmail for mobile in November last year. Telecommunications businesses now need to offer access to the established web 2.0 services, for both communication and for the fulfillment of their wider social needs while on the move.”

So, the question is, if telcos aren’t joining the mobile Web 2.0 revolution, why not?   According to the Arthur D. Little report, telecom companies face a dilemma regarding Web 2.0 that they haven’t yet resolved: “whether to collaborate or compete with the newly emerged yet de facto web 2.0 leaders (flickr etc) and face the long haul choice of building competing communities or taking the reduced margin implied from partnerships with existing players in exchange for more rapid access to larger communities.”   AT&T is one example of a telco that took the latter path by partnering with MySpace and hopping on for a ride with deals included in 3’s X-series portfolio (which includes companies like Skype, Google and YouTube). Arthur D. Little’s report suggests that AT&T’s approach, while growth-oriented, is considerably more risky than what’s known as the “bit-pipe” solution of focusing solely on pure bandwidth delivery rather than services.

New from Mayo Clinic: Health Info on Cell Phones

March 6, 2007

Here’s good news for cell phone addicts who also happen to be hypochondriacs: this week The Mayo Clinic rolled out a health information service available on through most mobile phone service providers. The service, InTouch, costs $2.99 per month; for that, you got access to information (such as first-aid tips, health videos, and emergency room listings) from MayoClinic.com—on your cell phone.   By the way, I was just kidding about the hypochondriac part. While I’m sure some people will use the service to “confirm” that something is terribly wrong with them when it isn’t, it likely will be utilized mostly by busy folks who need to quickly confirm how to deal with illnesses, or find an emergency room when immediate help is needed.   A DallasNews.com report today noted that, “Although Mayo is not the first to offer health information on cellphones, it's the highest-profile player to do so.”   Currently, DallasNews.com said, InTouch is available to roughly 180 million mobile subscribers who use services from Sprint Nextel, Cingular (AT&T), Verizon, and Alltel. Of course, you’ll need Web capabilities on your phone to use the service.   Mayo Clinic’s new service is just another symptom, I guess, of the increasing utility of mobile phones as tools for accessing information while on the go.

Meraki Networks Aims to Bring WiFi to the Masses, Starting in San Francisco

March 5, 2007

Meraki Networks—a Mountain View, California-based provider of wireless networking devices—is on a mission: bring WiFi to the masses. Or, as the company put its, “to bring affordable Internet access to the next billion people.”   How’s the company intend to do that? By making available what it calls “the first consumer wireless mesh Internet network designed to ‘unwire the world.’” First stop, San Francisco.   Meraki today announced that, during the next several weeks, it will be working with official in San Francisco to deploy a WiFi mesh network that’ll provide free access to 15,000 residents.   Okay, let’s back up here a little.

ABI: Wireless Connectivity Technologies Converging in Computer Chips

March 5, 2007

Among manufacturers that make chips and other components found in wireless consumer electronics products like cellphones and PDAs, there is a definite trend toward trying to cram more and more functionality into smaller and smaller spaces.   One way to do this, ABI Research noted in a new report out today, is to create wireless integrated circuits (ICs, also known as computer chips) that truly are integrated in the sense that they bring together multiple wireless connectivity technologies—such as WiFi, GPS, and FM radio.   In other words, the convergence of different wireless communications technologies is being applied to the very chips that power handheld device applications.   ABI predicts that by 2011, 32 percent of all ICs with Bluetooth, WiFi, WiMedia, GPS and FM radio functionality will be “integrated products that are either incorporated into a connectivity package combining two or more solutions, or will be integrated with a host processor or baseband processor.”   Perhaps unsurprisingly, ABI predicts that the two equipment sectors to see the majority of this integration will be cellular handsets and mobile computing.   The change is happening already, ABI said. Analyst Stuart Carlaw used two examples to illustrate this point:   Broadcom’s recently launched BCM4325, which integrates Bluetooth, FM radio and WiFi in a single IC   CSR’s recent acquisitions of NordNav and Cambridge Positioning Systems, in line with the company’s goal to begin producing ICs that combine GPS and Bluetooth   “We are on the cusp of a high level of integration activity, as silicon vendors look to add value to their offerings, diversify, and differentiate themselves in what are increasingly competitive markets,” Carlaw said in a statement.

Art Thieves, Beware of Cellphones

March 2, 2007

Would-be art thieves may find their career goals stymied by innovative new uses for cell phone technology. In particular, according to a report today on TechnologyNewsDaily.com, camera phones are enabling the international database of lost and stolen art to be more quickly updated.   “Thanks to a new development from the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology IPK, the investigator can now simply take a photo of the art object with his cell phone and send it instantly to a central server,” TechnologyNewsDaily reports.   An image analysis system compares the picture submitted to the database, helping to identify objects on the basis of features like shape, outline, color and texture.

Ovum: Fixed-Mobile Convergence is More Than Just Dual-Mode

March 1, 2007

Two terms that are tossed around very frequently in the telecommunications industry are “dual-mode” and “fixed-mobile convergence.” Both refer to the idea that, someday, there may be phone services and handsets available that let users seamlessly switch between different types of networks. Most often, the idea is that those will be cellular and WiFi networks.   Dual-mode services promise to improve the end-user experience when using next-generation telephony—saving money on minutes and getting access to better bandwidth when within range of WiFi network, but retaining connectivity via cellular in virtually all locations.   A new report out this week from Ovum, though, says that the industry of late has been much too focused on the development of dual-mode phones. All this hype, the research firm claims, is creating unrealistic expectations surrounding the viability of dual-mode telephony anytime in the foreseeable future.