Mitsubishi Corp. is reviving an enterprise wireless technology once targeted at the automotive industry that would allow the formation of WLANs with nothing but client devices.
Mitsubishis Moteran software works in conjunction with the 802.11b wireless protocol but is designed to be less expensive than a traditional wireless LAN because one of the notebooks or personal digital assistants in the WLAN can act as the gateway. As a result, the network requires no additional access point or access server hardware, officials said.
The new life for Moteran, which was initially developed as a way to build ad hoc car networks, is part of an effort by Mitsubishi and Detecon Consulting GmbH, the venture capital arm of Deutsche Telekom Inc.
"Some years ago, we did have an initiative for intelligent traffic services, and this is still one of the most interesting applications of Moteran for the future," said Shiro Sonoda, a senior vice president at Mitsubishi International GmbH, in Dusseldorff, Germany.
While industry experts have expressed interest, they see potential pitfalls.
"When that one gateway PC is disconnected, the whole network would be disconnected," said Erich Berman, advanced technology consultant at Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., in Milwaukee, and an eWeek Corporate Partner.
Mitsubishi plans to start beta testing the software this fall and will make it commercially available next June, officials said.
Initially, it will be marketed as a corporate WLAN platform, which likely will be sold on a site-license basis, rather than as off-the-shelf packaged software. Pricing is not set, but "it will be rather modest charges compared to the alternative," Sonoda said.
Beyond that, the company plans to expand the capabilities to include secure ad hoc networks for use during disaster recovery and for public "hot spot" wireless services.
Moteran includes a billing system that is designed to work with existing carrier building systems, officials said.
Application-level security is due in the next quarter, with security improvements continuing through next year.
The company also plans to offer the software to carriers next year. Officials said carriers could use the software for fixed wireless and wireless phone services that dont require additional base stations.