Proxim and Intel Scramble the WiMax Gear
Network News Break: Proxim and Intel have announced plans to have WiMax kit on the market by early next year. Let the foot race begin. Also: Cisco eats a rival, Linksys releases an 802.11g range extender, and Novell steps in to save a struggling open source IPSec project.
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A few bits of news popped up on the WiMax/802.16 front today:
- Proxim and Intel announced plans to work together to produce base stations and subscriber units based on an Intel chipset. Proxim says it will have base station and subscriber gear on the market by early 2005, with a complimentary set of mobile offerings available in late 2005.
- Canadian Wavesat and Murandi agreed to work together to get reference WiMax gear to market by Q4 of this year.
Nokia may be rejoining the WiMax Forum, the consortium driving development of the 802.16 standard, soon. The company's evidently interested in coming back around to work out the specs for 802.16d, the mobile subset of the WiMax standard.
If you get the sense that wireless broadband activity is reaching a fevered pitch, you're not alone. Not content to work on WiMax products, Proxim also announced upgrades to its Tsunami MP.11 line today. The Tsunami product line uses a modified version of the 802.11 spec to achieve long-distance, point-to-multipoint connections. According to the internetnews.com report on the updates, the new software will allow Proxim gear to "handle 250 connections (up from 100), provides new antenna alignment to facilitate end-user installation, installs DHCP and NAPT support in Subscriber units, allows for bandwidth control, and brings the units support for the 5.8GHz frequency band now available in the United Kingdom."
Why all the enthusiasm?
For starters, there's a strong sense that 802.11 staggered out of the gate.
Hotspots aren't generating the sort of revenue small-time players would like to see out of them, and a lot of small businesses have learned that there are benefits to just leasing a consumer-grade broadband connection, plunking down less than $200 for an access point, and letting the presence of free wireless connectivity drive extra sales. Periodic scuffles between companies trying to monetize their hotspots and groups of enthusiasts providing gratis "freenets" have probably also lent to a sense that perhaps the whole 802.11 thing was out of any sort of commercial control.
There's also the matter of utility. Investing in 802.16, which promises a radius of somewhere between 10 and 30 miles, means there's less tiny infrastructure to get tangled up in, more of a way to assure mobile users there's a point to buying national plans for access instead of scrounging around for a hotspot (and boring the rest of the world by blogging about it), and more hope for connecting customers without the intransigent and user-hostile telcos being in the middle of the transaction.
We're talking about a market that could, according to the internetnews.com report, be worth upwards of $1 billion by 2008. The scramble to be there the firstest with the mostest will be a footrace to watch.
If you're looking for an overview of the technology, it can't hurt to refer back to a piece we ran just last month providing some idea of where WiMax is headed and what makes it tick.
» Cisco has bought Procket's assets in a $89 million deal set to be final early next year:
Adding Procket engineers could "accelerate development of silicon and software across Cisco's next-generation routing portfolio," Mike Volpi, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's routing technology group, said in a statement.
Procket (short for Packet Rocket) makes core routing hardware and software. It launched PRO/8000 Concurrent Services products last year to help carriers, corporations and government agencies manage Internet Protocol networks.
A news.com report says the acquisition indicates that the company "may not be as happy with its new router as it has publicly stated. At an investor conference Tuesday, Cisco CEO John Chambers said the company was satisfied with its routing strategy and would only buy a competing company to acquire talent."
No word on what happens to Procket's existing customers in terms of support.
» Linksys has announced an 802.11g range extender. The $99 device is supposed to offer "plug-in, turn-on, push-button" simplicity for adding range to an existing 802.11g network, though the company offers little word on how well the push-button simplicity works with WPA, cloaked beacons, and all the other things you're presumably doing to keep the bad guys out.
» Novell has stepped in and rescued the open source VPN project Openswan by offering sponsorship and code contributions. The move represents the resuscitation of one of two moribund IPSec projects in the Linux world (the other being FreeS/WAN, which went silent earlier this year).
ISP Comcast has taken to blocking port 25 when it detects spam-like traffic levels. It's a good move the company says has reduced spam coming out of its net by 20 percent. Why isn't the block default behavior? Also: MIMO pushes WLANs further, HP spruces up its network management tools, and just in time for VoWLAN, we get a crash course in question-asking.
Akamai, the content distribution outfit of choice, took one on the chin this morning slowing or knocking out some of the Web's biggest sites. Is it the single point of failure IP was designed to avoid? Also: Juniper rolls into Cisco country, the FTC agrees that giving spammers a mailing list is a bad idea, Microsoft releases XP SP2 RC1, and a Bluetooth worm wriggles onto smartphones.
Akamai has issued a press release regarding yesterday's DDoS attack, but its strident rebuke of a Web measurement service's numbers sidesteps key issues. Also: Iomega releases point-n-click NAS, CAN-SPAM is an expensive and likely failure, and phishing rang up losses of as much as $1.2 billion last year.
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Network News Break is CrossNodes' daily summary of networking news and opinion, served up fresh daily. Please send your comments and suggestions to the editor.