Wi-Fi Intersecting Other Protocols

Several vendors are readying WLAN products that support not only Wi-Fi but Bluetooth and WANs.

Wi-Fi is hot, but its not the only wireless network in town. To help integrate and manage the variety of wireless platforms and protocols available to enterprise users, several vendors are readying WLAN products that support not only Wi-Fi but Bluetooth and WANs as well.

At the 802.11 Planet show here last week, Red-M Communications Ltd. introduced Red-Alert, a wireless probe that detects unauthorized 802.11 and Bluetooth signals and runs on the Red-Access box. The Bucks, England, company this summer plans to ship Red-Secure, which will help IT managers enforce security policies in a mixed-vendor environment, officials said.

Myriad companies make Wi-Fi security products, but this is among the first to address Bluetooth, officials said. "Its possible to hack using Bluetooth; we want to detect it," said Red-M CEO Karl Fielder.

Cognio Inc., a startup in Waltham, Mass., this fall will roll out its patent-pending Intelligent Spectrum Management technology, which detects, locates and mediates radio frequency transmissions in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz ranges.

The chip set is designed to work with management platforms such as Computer Associates International Inc.s Unicenter and Hewlett-Packard Co.s OpenView, officials said.

In addition to monitoring, the success of WLAN (wireless LAN) services has been growing, especially among corporate travelers.

"Its being used 60 to 80 percent every day," said Dave Krasner, the Boston-based Northeast regional manager of IT for Hilton Hotels Corp., which charges customers an average of $9.95 per day for use of their WLAN. "Everyone really wants it. We dont have enough bandwidth sometimes."

Hilton is in senior-level talks with several carriers to work out wireless service deals, Krasner said. On the table is a service that would allow a customer who has Wi-Fi service through a carrier such as T-Mobile USA Inc. or Sprint PCS Group to use that service to get access at a Hilton for no extra charge.

To that end, companies that specialize in Wi-Fi products continue to woo major carriers—both wireless and wire-line operators.