Risks Amid the Success

Vivato, Verizon and others unwrap support for public WLANs; experts continue to warn of security woes.

As the wireless industry pushes for the proliferation of public wireless LANs, security experts continue to issue warnings about keeping the data from becoming public.

At the in New Orleans last week, several companies announced products and services for deploying Wi-Fi, or 802.11b WLAN, services.

Vivato Inc., a Wi-Fi infrastructure startup funded by Intel Corp., launched the Vivato 2.4GHz Outdoor Wi-Fi Switch, a system designed for outdoor WLAN deployments.

When mounted on a rooftop or the top of a tower, the Vivato switch provides outdoor coverage for up to 2.5 miles, the idea being that it can turn hot spots into "hot zones," according to officials at the San Francisco company.

Vivato mounted two switches here during the CTIA show, one in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and one in the middle of Jackson Square.

The antenna and electronics of the switch are protected by a temperature-controlled, weatherproof enclosure.

The switch sends three simultaneous beams of Wi-Fi throughout the coverage area, directing with a phased array antenna, officials said.

They said the company plans to deploy the switch to office buildings, campuses, warehouses, sports arenas, shopping malls and airports.

The list price for the switch is $13,995. It will be available through VARs in May. An indoor switch from Vivato is due in May as well.

ADC Telecommunications Inc. and The Management Network Group, meanwhile, demonstrated a revenue management application for wireless public access networks at CTIA. The companies showed how carriers can offer convergent billing and policy-based charging for authentication, authorization and accounting for both WLAN and WAN services.

WLAN equipment maker Proxim Inc. and broadband service provider Trillion Digital Communications Inc. announced at the show they have set up wireless networks to connect more than 500 schools and will connect an additional 250 this year.

In addition, Verizon Wireless Inc. plans to offer branded 802.11b WLAN hot-spot services by the third quarter. Working with hot-spot company Wayport Inc., Verizon will provide network monitoring, authentication and billing for the services, which will be available through existing distribution channels, including business-to-business sales teams. Officials said there are similarities between the WLAN services and the wireless broadband services the company plans to offer over Code Division Multiple Access 1xEV-DO WANs but said WLANs are important.

"802.11 will be great spectrum relief," said Jim Straight, vice president of wireless data and Internet services at Verizon, in Laurel, Md. Straight added, however, that Verizon has sufficient spectrum to offer EV-DO services to several metropolitan areas. The company will branch those services out if they are successful in San Diego and Washington, he said.