Wireless Web Digest: Wal-Mart to Throw Its Weight behind RFID

Wal-Mart will encourage its top 100 suppliers to start using wireless inventory tracking equipment by 2005. AMD Flashes Its Bluetooth Smile Qualcomm Closing Wireless Knowledge Wireline, Wireless Players Pool Minutes

Wal-Mart to Throw Its Weight behind RFID

Inventory management technology that uses wireless signals to track products from the factory to store shelves is set to win a major new ally next week: Wal-Mart. The retail giant is expected to throw its weight behind RFID (radio frequency identification) technology at the Retail Systems 2003 industry conference in Chicago on Tuesday. Sources familiar with the companys plans said executives will make a presentation encouraging its top 100 suppliers to start using wireless inventory tracking equipment by 2005. In the past, Wal-Mart has helped to promote other technologies that have helped to streamline inventory and supply-chain management. Teaming with K-Mart and other retailers in the 1980s, Wal-Mart helped to promote the use of bar code scanning. A bar code standard was approved in 1973, but by 1984 only 15,000 suppliers were using codes on their products. Wal-Mart threw its weight behind bar codes in 1984, and by 1987 there were 75,000 suppliers using bar codes, according to AMR Research.

Read the full story on: CNET News.com

AMD Flashes Its Bluetooth Smile

Semiconductor maker AMD last week unveiled a new low voltage Flash memory unit designed for mobile devices and PDAs. The semiconductor maker said its 8-Megabit Am29SL800D -- part of its AM29SL Flash memory product line -- focuses on Bluetooth and Global Positioning System (GPS) modules. "Consumers are expecting more from portable electronics, including advanced Bluetooth and GPS capabilities, but theyre unwilling to accept side effects such as reduced battery life," Ian Williams, vice president of customer operations for AMDs Memory Group said in a statement. The chipmaker said its 1.8-Volt Flash memory device requires as little as one-fifth of the standby current and one-half of the read current.

Read the full story on: InternetNews.com

Qualcomm Closing Wireless Knowledge

Qualcomm is shutting down its Wireless Knowledge subsidiary, the company said Friday. Qualcomm is absorbing its assets and intellectual property. Wireless Knowledges Workstyle software lets customers access corporate e-mail accounts or networks from wireless devices. Qualcomm created the subsidiary with Microsoft in 1998 and bought out Microsofts share in November of 2001.

Read the full story on: CNET News.com

Wi-Fi Prices: Europe Is Being Ripped Off

A report from Telecom.Paper said European prices for public hotspots are out of line with prices in Asia and the US -- and forecasts that high prices will remain for some time. "Public WLAN prices are very heterogeneous. The current pricing structure offers simple Internet access mostly for two hours or 24 hours and monthly flat rates," said the research brief. The report authors said that the market will split into two segments at least: high-end for top locations with guaranteed service plans geared at business travelers and low-end at an affordable price for consumers and occasional users.

Read the full story on: The Register

Wireline, Wireless Players Pool Minutes

SBC Communications, BellSouth and Cingular Wireless unveiled a service aimed at erasing the boundaries between wireless and wireline calls for consumers. Dubbed MinuteShare, the service -- currently on trial in Texas with customers who have SBC local and domestic long distance service and Cingular wireless service -- will allow residential consumers to share a single bucket of minutes between their SBC or BellSouth wireline and Cingular wireless phones. Keith Mallinson, executive vice president of research firm The Yankee Group, agreed. "Pooling wireless minutes is a significant change in how carriers offer voice services, and it will be a differentiator for Cingular, SBC and BellSouth," he said. "Consumers will benefit from the convenience and flexibility to make a call on either their traditional or wireless phone."

Read the full story on: InternetNews.com