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The News – 06/28/02

In this Issue:

Recommended Reading

I realize this is the only newsletter you’ll ever need, but if you want more in-depth detail, check out:

Stan Hustad’s
The Coaching Connection

Management Signature's
The Express Read

Giants to Enter WLAN Game?

Toshiba and IBM may be contemplating launching their own national wireless networks based on the 802.11b (Wi-Fi) standard. Teaming with Telcordia Technologies, Toshiba is to launch a “public spaces initiative,” called Itsumo (Japanese for anytime/all the time, and standing for Internet Technologies Supporting Universal Mobile Operations). The company will begin setting up hotspots for data and voice in malls, coffee shops, and possibly supermarkets as soon as June 25th. The hotspots will connect to Toshiba's hosting site, making the company into a national ISP.

Subscribers can use a PDA to make a voice call over IP on the Wi-Fi network, and the call will be switched to a cellular network once the user is out of Wi-Fi range. Toshiba recently introduced a $599 Wi-Fi-capable Pocket PC, but it doesn’t do telephony yet.

On the server side of things, the Toshiba Wireless Broadband Hot Spot will cost $199 to deploy, and the company would like to see the number of public hotspots mushroom from the current 1 to 2 thousand to 10,000. Toshiba is also readying its “Seamless Office,” a combination of hardware and software that enables users to roam between access points without losing their IP address.

IBM is collaborating with partners such as Nokia and MobileStar to develop wireless hotspots. In April 2001, the company inked a partnership with MobileStar, whose assets were acquired in January by VoiceStream and folded into Deutche Telekom’s T-Mobile Wireless Broadband network. T-Mobile now provides 802.11b service in 650 hot spots across the US.

IBM also partnered with Nokia in April of this year in a deal which establishes IBM Global Services as a system integrator of Nokia's wireless LAN infrastructure products in order to provide public wireless LAN solutions worldwide. The deal is non-exclusive, though, since Nokia will continue sales of its Operator Wireless LAN solution through its existing sales channels.

What will all this Wi-Fi activity mean for the still-coming 3G wireless networks? According to Paavo Aro, General Manager of Wireless LAN Systems with Nokia Networks, public WLANs represent a complementary service offering for mobile network operators. “I believe that Nokia Operator Wireless LAN will expand both 2G and 3G operator's total business case by spearheading broadband data access user experience e.g. to corporate data,” Aro said in an interview with Infosync.

Smart wireless network operators see the writing on the Wi-Fi wall and, like VoiceStream and Nokia, are taking steps to be a part of the Wi-Fi revolution. Device manufacturers like Toshiba and IBM are betting heavily on the appeal of public hotspots for mobile computing. Despite the standards wars between 802.11b, a, and g that loom on the horizon, it seems that Wi-Fi (802.11b) has the momentum and the public backing to become a significant standard for business and consumer computing.

Briefly Noted

  • Taking Your Business On the Road: The Car As Wireless Office

  • Standards, Standards Everywhere: A Business Guide to Wireless Standards

  • M-Commerce: Are We There Yet?

  • Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mobile Location-Based Wireless Services

  • The Wireless Last Mile: Fixed Wireless Broadband Services

  • Beyond Keyboards, Beyond Wires: Voice Activated Wireless Services

  • Information, Entertainment, and Access At Your Fingertips: Interactive Wireless Information Services

    These white papers will be released over the coming months. To be notified when a new white paper is released, send an email to or check

  • Microsoft’s Weak Xbox Security: From the It’s Not Really Surprising Department comes an item forwarded by Alert SNS Reader Todd Mortenson. MIT student Andrew Huang has figured out how to retrieve the software “keys” that a game disc must contain for the Xbox to recognize its contents as legitimate code. Andrew took the brute-force way and soldered a breakout box between two components on the Xbox motherboard that allowed him to observe system traffic. He says it took him only three weeks to get the secret keys because the Xbox security codes weren’t encrypted. Microsoft instead opted for “security by obscurity” measures, including dummy hardware chips. Developers with the security keys could create Web browsers, MP3 players, or other applications for the Xbox. And that would be wrong, obviously.

    One of the truly unfortunate realities of research such as Huang’s is that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes it illegal, even if he doesn’t share the results. Microsoft, so far, is saying it won’t prosecute. However, Princeton researchers who broke the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) digital copy protection schemes weren’t so lucky, although their case has recently been resolved without penalties, but also without a court ruling on the First Amendment rights of researchers.

  • Wireless Predictions: Synchrologic, a company that provides centrally managed services for fleets of handhelds, has made a not-so-surprising prediction: Within a year the majority of handhelds will be centrally managed. In a survey, more than 70 percent of respondents expected to centrally purchase and manage handhelds within 18 months, with just over 40 percent already there. Of course, this prediction is a bit self-serving, but other aspects of Synchrologic’s survey are very interesting.

    • Just under 10 percent of respondents have already ported enterprise applications to handheld devices, and 50 percent plan to do so within the next 18 months.

    • Email is the most likely application to be mobilized.

    • Wireless connectivity options were very much preferred compared to wireline modems.

    • "Unexpected" business drivers are pushing companies to mobilize. Rather than justifying projects by a formal ROI analysis, many firms find competitive advantage and heightened levels of customer service are strong enough justifications for going mobile.
  • Lindows and Microsoft in Trademark Trouble: You might expect Microsoft to be fiercely protective of its trademark on Windows®, and you might expect that they would take a dim view of a company like Lindows, founded by founder and former Chief Executive Officer Michael Robertson. Lindows is claiming that its Linux-based OS, LindowsOS, can run both Linux and Windows applications.

    Naturally, Microsoft sued in December, 2001, but clear thinking Judge John C. Coughenour denied a temporary injunction in March and has thrown open the question of Microsoft’s trademark on Windows, saying that generic terms can’t be trademarked. The judge said in his opinion that Microsoft's claim to the Windows trademark might be precarious, as the mark was both generic and had been rejected multiple times by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office before its approval in 1995. In May, the judge denied Microsoft’s request that he reconsider his ruling and said Lindows could use the name at least until a trial could be held next April.

    The worst of it is: Microsoft shot themselves in the foot. It submitted materials, including press reports at the time of Windows’ introduction, and entries from Microsoft's own computer terms dictionary, that the judge claims show that “windows” is a generic term. Such materials are evidence that Microsoft's Windows is a product within a group of products, one part of the test of genericness, Coughenour ruled. “Even Microsoft's own computer dictionary includes expansive definitions of ‘windowing environment’ and ‘windowing software,’” the judge's order read.

    Add to this insult the fact that WalMart is now selling Lindows-equipped PCs for 300 bucks, and you can understand Redmond’s discomfort. Plus the company says it plans to allow any computer maker to put Lindows on as many PCs as it wants for a $500 license fee. Brilliant!

    Stay tuned. This one could get even more interesting.

  • Motorola Pitches Canopy: Motorola, despite a recent reputation for missing the boat (see a previous SNS) on new trends, is making a strong bid as a player in the fixed wireless market. Canopy, released this week, operates on the unlicensed, but less noisy, 5.25-5.35 GHz and 5.725-5.825 GHz spectrum, and delivers 10Mbps speed. Motorola has set very attractive pricing to create a very low barrier to entry for wireless broadband entrepreneurs. A single access point can serve a 2- to 10-mile area. And the best thing about the system is it doesn’t require an expensive truck roll to install. Consumers or businesses just plug it in (indoors) and it works, according to the company. Despite its very recent unveiling, 45 Web providers are already using Canopy.

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In the unlikely event that you want more of my opinions, I’ve started a Weblog. It’s the fashionable thing for pundits to do, and I’m doing it too. A Weblog is a datestamped collection of somewhat random thoughts and ideas assembled on a Web page. If you’d like to subject the world to your thoughts, as I do, you can create your own Weblog. You need to have a Web site that allows you FTP access, and the free software from This allows you to right click on a Web page and append your pithy thoughts to your Weblog.

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Also check out the TrendSpot for ranking of the latest emerging trends.

In Memoriam

Gerald M. Ellsworth

March 14, 1928 - July 5, 2003

In Memoriam

Jane C. Ellsworth

July 20, 1928 - July 20, 2003