By Guy Kewney  |  Posted 2004-03-17 Print this article Print

: U.S. vs. Europe"> What interested me was the way markets in the United States and Europe seem to differ. And one of the key factors, it seems, is security. If were to believe Vogt and Trapeze, Europe is well ahead of the United States in security awareness. His analysis is that European wireless– coming late to the game– is able to take a more detached overview of the problems and "get it right" without having to patch together a host of old, pioneering systems. It seems fair to admit that rivals at Airespace think this is simply not right, and that the American security market is flourishing faster than its European counterpart. I suspect the answer may be just a question of which company has done better in which territory, but also a question of which technology is going to triumph in the test of time. And thats where Ringmaster comes in.
Airespace of San Jose, Calif., has a technology that dynamically manages radio-signal strength "in real time"; Trapeze is getting close, with a system that can be adjusted but needs IT intervention. What both recognize is that the days when a network was a single-access point in each room, with the occasional client wandering in, are over.
Were now in the age of wireless overload. A room with a theoretical capacity of supporting 10 users fills up with human beings who very effectively block the signal, making a stronger signal needed. A room that has no problem feeding 10 people with broadband can collapse into chaos with 100 clients all generating wireless noise. And at CeBIT, youll have a room that can accommodate a couple of thousand humans and their wireless gear, and youll be lucky getting modem-speed connections from something that should carry Ethernet-speed data. Last year, Ekahau showed just how bad it was. If I were a hotel manager, the last thing Id want to do would be to try to set up such a service for my guests. Especially demanding ones who would tell their colleagues never to come back. Airespace likes to tell its customers that it has "a wireless engineer free inside every access point" with its centrally managed system. Thats what the IT manager needs: someone to do the work that current staff levels simply make impossible. You cant hire new bodies to do it; youd better find some way of making it simple to install. And what I like about Ringmaster is that the same package you use to survey the site is the software you use to manage it. It may not be the best site survey tool (or again, it might be!), but something like that has to be the way to talk people who are not themselves wireless experts or IT experts, but who are going to be the people who are expected to make it work when, unexpectedly, it all goes pear-shaped. Whats worse than no WiFi? WiFi thats there but doesnt work properly. Too much more of that, and the industry goes into reverse. Dont think it cant happen! Check out eWEEKs Mobile & Wireless Center at for the latest news, reviews and analysis. Be sure to add our mobile and wireless news feed to your RSS newsreader or My Yahoo page:  


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