Voice over IP, 802.11 Wi-Fi, mobile phones and devices, and combinations of the three have had a strong presence at the CeBIT show currently happening in Hannover, Germany—not to mention a scattering of WiMax (802.16 wide-area broadband).
For mobile Palm users looking to get more connected, Enfora is showing its new Wi-Fi Sled for the Treo 600 and 650—the only Wi-Fi accessory for these models, according to Christian Allred, vice president of sales for the Plano, Texas, company. The Sled—scheduled for an end-of-March release for $149—includes its own battery so as not to drain the Treos. It also lets users make voice and data calls simultaneously, and leaves the SD slot available.
Also being shown is Enforas WiFi Portfolio, priced at $169, and its GSM/GPRS Wireless Portfolio, similarly allowing older Palms to gain wireless access and do both voice and data concurrently.
On the business travelers short list of Holy Grails, Starbucks-like in-flight Internet access is inarguably up there, along with phone access (which adjacent flyers may be less thrilled with).
In fact, its here—if youre on the right airplane, like one thats a customer of Connexion by Boeing (part of The Boeing Co.), whos providing wired and 802.11b Internet access, using KU-band transponders to connect to the Internet.
According to William Thompson, vice president of sales and distribution at Connexion by Boeing, the service is providing Internet access not only to airlines like China Airlines, Japan Airlines, Lufthansa and Scandinavian Airlines, but is also entering the maritime arena, for commercial shipping, for example. Connexion by Boeing also recently added deals with T-Systems, StarHub and NTT DoCoMo. (Connexion sells to companies, but individuals can also sign up directly through Connexions Web site.)
Per-flight pricing is fixed ($14.95 for under 3 hours, $19.95 for 3 to 6 hours and $29.95 for over 6 hours) or with a minimum plus per-minute charge—what you choose will depend not only on flight duration and how much you plan to do but, of course, how long your batterys good for, if you dont have a seat outlet. And while the company doesnt explicitly promote VOIP (voice over IP) or multimedia use, it doesnt block any applications, according to Thompson. “A major CEO recently did a press videoconference from a plane,” he said.
Sound, video and GPS blast off at CeBIT.
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For companies still planted firmly on the ground, Symbol Technologies Inc. introduced at CeBIT its high-capacity WS5100 enterprise wireless switch, offering 10 times the throughput and 60 percent more coverage than its WS5000 switch.
Wi-Fiing small devices like VOIP, video and cordless digital phones will soon get easier, thanks to the new 9mm by 9mm 88W8385 chip from Marvell International Ltd., which combines CPU and on-chip memory.
Trying to avoid having more headsets than ears? Plantronics Inc.s Voyager 510 Bluetooth headset, available soon after CeBIT ends, can work with a variety of Bluetooth-enabled devices—mobile and office phones, PDAs, and laptops—and should deliver up to 6 hours talk time and 100 hours standby on a charge. It is available either headset-only or with a Bluetooth base unit that connects to any phone.
Also on hand at CeBIT were Wi-Fi VOIP phones from Net2Phone Inc. and ZyXel. Motorola Inc., meanwhile, is working with Avaya Inc. on a 2G/3G/Wi-Fi phone. And Ortek Technology Inc. was showing VOIP USB phones, available now, with or without an LCD screen.
Over in the Canadian pavilion, Eion Wireless was showing router appliances for ad hoc mesh wireless networking, such as emergency preparedness and defense. According to Harry Silverstone, director of business development and technology, unlike current mesh networks, these will handle moving sources better—at up to 30 miles an hour. While the current devices are about half the size of the new mini Mac, the company hopes to get down to the size of a USB RAM stick.
And to accompany these, CeBIT brought announcements of new notebook computers, storage media and devices, batteries, connective adapters, and more.
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