Optical/IP Networks

Orange Peels Convergence

European mobile giant Orange SA (London/Paris: OGE)'s entry into the fixed/mobile convergence market is the big news in today's technology round-up, while meshed video, Swedish WiFi sniffing tools, and a WiFi pizza patent duke it out for also-ran glory.

Orange Converged: Despite sounding like a Philip K. Dick novel, "Unik" is actually the new fixed/mobile convergence service from Orange. Allowing users to make calls over WiFi networks when in range of an access point and GSM cellular when not, the service will provide one number for fixed and mobile calls and collect messages in a single inbox.

The service will launch in France in October before spreading to other European markets. Users will choose from Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), and Samsung Corp. dual-mode handsets at launch.

Orange will take on BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA)'s FMC service in Europe. T-Mobile US Inc. is expected to launch a similar service in the U.S. soon. (See T-Mobile: UMA 'Round the Corner?.)

Mesh's Dynamic Duo: Axis Communications AB and Firetide Inc. are combining to fight crime with "meshed WiFi video." The deal is an extension of the work that Firetide already does in the video surveillance field. (See Case Study: Texas State Fair.) The firms are now partnering to offer a complete system with video cameras from Axis and mesh hardware and software from Firetide. "The system is easy and cost-effective to deploy and does not require any modification or additional configuration of the video equipment," says Firetide.

Swedish Sniffers: As if the market for WiFi detection devices wasn't crowded enough, there's a new sniffer on the scene from a company called Aircapture AB out of Stockholm. The firm says that its special power is that it scans all available channels in 802.11b/g simultaneously and captures and stores the data for "weeks not minutes," making the system the "first commercially available WLAN forensics tool." We'll let you know more about Aircapture as we sniff the company out ourselves.

Xirrus's Deep Pan Patent: In the flood of M&A activity last week, the possible significance of Xirrus Inc. 's newly awarded U.S. patent may have been overlooked. The patent applies to the physical housing of the high-capacity access point itself, which regular readers will remember looks something like a large deep dish pizza. (See Reinventing the WLAN Wheel?.)

Why on earth should anyone care about the design of the physical housing? Well, there are only so many ways to slice the high-capacity WiFi pie, according to John DiGiovanni, director of marketing at the firm. "It'll make it tough to follow us into the high-capacity, multi-radio sector," DiGiovanni claims. This is because, DiGiovanni reckons, there are only so many ways to put multiple radios into a WiFi housing and have them operate without interference.

So far, Meru Networks Inc. is the only other company that has a similar multi-radio, high capacity design. (See Meru Ships Switch in Volume.) So it remains to be seen exactly how significant Xirrus's patent will be in the market, but DiGiovanni says that Xirrus is open to the idea of licensing the design if asked.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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