Product Roundup: WiFi Strikes Back

Wireless LAN strikes back in this week's 802.11-packed tech product roundup. There's everything from a new fixed/mobile convergence system from Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE) to an attempt to reinvent the hotspot for WiFi phone users. Along the way we'll take in new products and upgrades from Aruba Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: ARUN) and Trapeze Networks Inc. as well.

Suited 'n' booted convergence: Siemens' Chantry WiFi unit is claiming a first in the fixed/mobile convergence market -- a complete FMC system for enterprises that allows them to keep control of users roaming between WLAN and cellular networks. This is similar to what's already touted by startups such as DiVitas Networks Inc. , but the German networking vendor says it's the first to offer a complete package of client software, devices, and appliance.

The Siemens HiPath Mobile Connect system uses SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) software at its core and supports WiFi-to-GSM cellular roaming. Two handsets are currently available that can be used with the system -- the Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) handset and the Fujitsu Siemens Computers LOOX device. The company is working on more device and carrier partnerships.

Siemens is looking at the system as a productivity booster as much as a money saver. The system is set up so that a user has one number no matter what network he or she is logged onto, and the system decides how to route calls depending on where the user is situated. The FMC system starts at $6,000 for 10 users.

NextSpot: Ruckus Wireless Inc. is trying to push its latest product -- the MediaFlex Hotspot -- as a device that provides public WiFi access, since a lot more people are using VOIP phones and requiring better coverage from access points.

"You can't trust public WiFi service," says Ruckus's CEO Selina Lo, noting that in her experience it is "patchy" at best. The firm is incorporating its smart antenna technology into an access point for hotspot applications in a bid to improve current WiFi services.

Enterprise-class APs only support 8 to 12 voice calls today, but Ruckus says its new AP will be able to handle call loads that would typically tax several ordinary APs.

Ruckus is betting people will pay carriers for WiFi services if the quality improves. "Users will be willing to pay for WiFi access, just as we pay for broadband access now as part of our monthly bill," says Lo, predicting that its APs will become "part of mainstream telecom infrastructure."

Scaleability rules: In its latest bid to keep updating its operating system to compete with Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and others in the enterprise WLAN market, Aruba is emphasizing the benefits of being large.

The thinking behind the ArubaOS 3.1 upgrade (incidentally, there was no 3.0) is that as companies build out WiFi networks they will need to be able to define who gets access to what services across a lot more access points. "These networks are getting larger and more complex all the time," notes Aruba product manager Jon Green.

The new Aruba OS lets managers in a large network apply different sets of policies more easily on different parts of the network.

Location safety net: Meanwhile, Trapeze is following Aruba, Cisco, and others into the WiFi location market with its new LA-200 appliance. Wireless LAN is increasingly being used in healthcare and other markets to keep tabs on expensive items. All the current appliances use signal strength readings and triangulation to determine the position of the tags in a WiFi network to within a few meters.

Trapeze claims that its appliance is one of the most accurate yet, with 99 percent accuracy at locating tags within ten meters. The LA-200 is shipping now at a list price of $14,995. — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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lrmobile_Merlin 12/5/2012 | 3:13:49 PM
re: Product Roundup: WiFi Strikes Back I reckon all the major PBX vendors will have announced FMC product solutions very shortly.

The big PBX companies all have enterprise reseller partnerships with carriers not just Siemens. Siemens, Avaya, Cisco, Nortel have plenty of installed customers that will be interested in upgrading their PBXs to FMC when these companies announce their FMC products.

RichardBennett 12/5/2012 | 3:13:31 PM
re: Product Roundup: WiFi Strikes Back Aruba sent a funny message about the Trapeze Smart Mobile architecture to their sales people, and Trapeze is having lots of fun with it. See my blog to get in on the fun:


joset01 12/5/2012 | 3:13:30 PM
re: Product Roundup: WiFi Strikes Back Don't quite understand why they'd be freaking out right now. Wasn't the Trapeze system unveiled a while back?

lrmobile_strungup 12/5/2012 | 3:13:29 PM
re: Product Roundup: WiFi Strikes Back If all FUDs are signs of running scared, the valley is ready for a marathon.
RichardBennett 12/5/2012 | 3:13:29 PM
re: Product Roundup: WiFi Strikes Back Aruba is apparently reacting to questions from customers and prospects with a set of talking points. The strange thing is that the talking points have virtually nothing to do with the actual Trapeze architecture, they're a big straw man exercise.

Trapeze has separated the control plane from the data plane, eliminating the bottleneck that will plague 11n deployments based in the old-fashioned anorexic AP model.

Eventually, Aruba will have to do the same thing, but they'll be playing catchup.

(full disclosure) This makes me very happy since I work for Trapeze, although not in the capacity of a spokesperson.
lbknick123 12/5/2012 | 3:13:28 PM
re: Product Roundup: WiFi Strikes Back great -- in two years when businesses of any reasonable size start deploying certified .11n products, Trapeze (if they are still around) will have a nice architecture.
lrmobile_strungup 12/5/2012 | 3:13:27 PM
re: Product Roundup: WiFi Strikes Back Since when does FUD rely solely on technical merit? I guess you haven't seen enough of FUDs that flies around between companies. This is on par with every day rebuttals that gets issued to the field, and doesn't hold a candle to the smoke and mirror tactics out there.

I think you're reading too much into it.

wirelessfreak 12/5/2012 | 3:13:27 PM
re: Product Roundup: WiFi Strikes Back Seems more like maybe Trapeze is desparate. Since when do companies post their FUD wars in gory detail on a public forum? Only when you have nothing else to lose.

Has anyone noticed that Trapeze goes out of its way to mention Meru and Aruba in every press release? Must want to make sure they show up in those google searches.

This should be a fun one though - maybe even more entertaining than Cisco vs. Meru. I bet there is going to be a hanging at Aruba for the person who leaked that email. Would love to be a fly on wall when that happens - or is it a fly on the carcass?
wavefront 12/5/2012 | 3:13:27 PM
re: Product Roundup: WiFi Strikes Back From your blog:

"Only Trapeze allows you to use the right tool for the right environment."

Chantry (now Siemens) has had this architecture from day 1. APs can concurrently bridge some traffic locally while tunneling other traffic through the controller. All APs are administered and managed centrally; local bridging continues even if the connection to the controller is lost.

What's the old saying - imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
RichardBennett 12/5/2012 | 3:13:26 PM
re: Product Roundup: WiFi Strikes Back Good point, having the right architecture is necessary but not sufficient. You also have to implement it correctly and supplement it with the right feature set. It's not clear that anyone else has actually done the whole job.
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