The Wi-Fi Alliance announced Monday that it has begun certifying products for compliance with the Wi-Fi Direct standard, aimed at enabling router-free instant networking among Wi-Fi enabled devices (a la Bluetooth). Technically, Wi-Fi Direct does not dispense with access points, but merely relies on a software-based alternative, called Soft AP, allowing any Direct-enabled device to act as an access point.
A Wi-Fi Direct connection is not only way more uncomplicated than traditional peer-to-peer Wi-Fi connections (ad hoc), but it is also much more secure. It is being tipped by many to be Bluetooth’s replacement -- and not without good reason. Bluetooth simply can’t match Wi-Fi Direct in terms of range and speed.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab Android tablet will be hitting US retail next month, but what if you don't care to do more business with the mobile carriers? As it turns out, Best Buy (of all companies) is coming to the rescue. The electronics retailer will be selling a Wi-Fi-only version of the Galaxy Tab for $499.
The Tab is already making an appearance in Best Buy advertizing, but no firm release date is mentioned. Best Buy will also carry the 3G versions for both Verizon and Sprint. The Galaxy Tab will sport a 7-inch touch screen LCD with Android 2.2 under Samsung's TouchWiz interface. The $499 price point is exactly the same as the 10-inch Wi-Fi-only iPad. It's going to be interesting to see how consumers respond to the choice.
Marvel on Monday introduced its Avastar 88W8764 wireless chip. According to Marvell, this is the first ever 802.11n, 4x4 single-die solution, which the company plans to market for use in enterprise access points, service provider gateways, high performance home routers, media and mobile servers, Digital TVs (DTVs), and set-top boxes.
"Wi-Fi has become the critical common link in today's mobile communications as users now expect and demand seamless, high-performance, robust and secure connectivity, zero latency and crystal clear communication between all their connected devices no matter where they go," said Weili Dai, Co-Founder of Marvell. "Marvell has a proven track record as the world leader in Wi-Fi for enterprise, consumer and mobile applications delivering robust, high performance and high bandwidth, highly secure and seamless wireless connectivity. I believe Marvell's groundbreaking 802.11n 4x4 Wi-Fi solution will fundamentally change the wireless landscape and truly enable the entire spectrum of always-on consumer products."
The new Avastar chips sports four independent transmit-receive RF chains with support for three Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MIMO) spatial streams for up to 450Mbps data rates, Marvell says.
No word yet on when the 4x4 part will start to show up in shipping devices.
The storage gurus at Cloud Engines on Monday announced the Pogoplug Pro, the latest version of the company's multimedia sharing device.
Like the previous version, the Pro version allows users to connect up to four USB drives and to print from any mobile device. But new to the Pro version is built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. Users can place the Pogoplug device wherever they want without having to worry about snaking unsightly Ethernet cable to their router.
The Pogoplug Pro is available exclusively at Best Buy for $99.
Chances are you've encountered "Free Public WiFi" in your travels, which is available in thousands of spots across the United States. But it's not what it sounds like.
"I went to connect to an available wireless network and I saw this option, Free Public WiFi," says Joshua Wright, a wireless security expert who first noticed noticed the wireless scheme about four years ago at an airport. "And I was aware from my job and analysis in the field that this wasn't a sanctioned, provisioned wireless network, but it was actually something rogue."
It's actually an "ad hoc" network, so when you select it, you're connecting to someone else's PC. And though it doesn't provide Internet access, it's been able to spread across the country courtesy of a bug in Windows XP.
When older versions of XP can't find any of its "favorite" wireless networks, it creates an ad hoc network with the same name as the last one it connected to. In this case, that's "Free Public WiFi," which as you might imagine hasn't had a tough time enticing users to connect. Microsoft eradicated the issue in more recent versions of XP, as well as in Service Pack 3, but the zombie network still exists.
So do other zombie networks, for that matter, including ones called "linksys," "hpsetup," "tmobile," and "default."
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) yesterday approved a set of new rules for using the unused broadcast spectrum between television, otherwise known as "white space."
"As compared to the airwaves we released for unlicensed use in 1985, this 'white spaces' spectrum is far more robust -- traveling longer distances and through walls, making the potential for unlicensed spectrum much greater," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement.
"We know what the first major application will be: super Wi-Fi. Super Wi-Fi is what it sounds like: Wi-Fi, but with longer range, faster speeds, and more reliable connections. We can also expect, as we've seen now with Wi-Fi, enhanced performance from the mobile devices using licensed spectrum that we've come to rely on so heavily."
Microsoft applauded the FCC's decision, saying that their action will lead to greater broadband connectivity to consumers, while contributing to a new generation of wireless broadband technologies.
"With this vote, the commission is taking a forward-looking view of how to optimize spectrum allocation by capitalizing on evolving technologies," Craig Mundie, Microsoft's Chief Research and Strategy Officer, said in a blog post. "As a result, technology companies will be able to develop new applications that tap into the potential of white spaces networks.
Microsoft's own campus in Redmond already makes use of a prototype "White-Fi" systems, which Mundie says 'delivers more economical broadband Internet access employees traveling between buildings."
Screw the coffee and other caffeinated beverages, give us our Wi-Fi! That's the general theme behind a new study conducted by the Wi-Fi Alliance, which pinged 1,000 young adults (or millennials) ages 17 to 29 in the U.S., and another 400 in China just for good measure.
Three-fourths of the respondents living in the U.S. said that going a week without Wi-Fi would put them in a worse mood than going a week without coffee or tea. That number jumps to 87 percent in China. And over half of respondents (58 percent in the U.S., 56 percent in China) pegged Wi-Fi as being a necessity versus just helpful.
Some other interesting poll results:
Two-thirds of respondents in the U.S. reported they spend more time on Wi-Fi than watching television
64 percent of U.S. respondents claimed it would be impossible to maintain relationships with many friends without Wi-Fi, while 44 percent said the same about family
84 percent of respondents in the U.S. said they are more likely to carry a handheld digital device than a watch
"These polling results are a strong reflection of both the social and technological orientation of young adults around the world today," commented Kurt Scherf, vice president and principal analyst at Parks Associates. "Interactive digital devices are fundamental to how millennials spend their time and connect with family and friends, and have become more important than older, more passive forms of entertainment like television.
How important is Wi-Fi in your daily routine? Do you rank Wi-Fi access as a higher want or need than coffee or TV?
OnLive's cloud-based gaming service launched in June with Wi-Fi support conspicuously missing from its armory. While OnLive's lack of Wi-Fi support was never really a pressing concern for the vast majority of the world's population, it did matter to both the service's early adopters and detractors, with some admittedly ardent fans even stooping to such abject lows as building Ethernet loopback adapters to pass off their Wi-Fi connection as a wired one.
The lawsuits sure have been flying Google's way as of late. Most recently, location tracking service Skyhook has gotten into the fray. Skyhook is claiming that Google's location mapping business is competing unfairly with that of Skyhook, and that Google is infringing Skyhook's patents.
The first suit relates to the search giant's supposed anti-competitive behavior. According to legal documents, Google used their market position to encourage handset makers to stop using Skyhook services. This caused contracts to be cancelled and cost Skyhook millions. The second suit claims that Google's attempts to map Wi-Fi access points is using Skyhook technology.
Google has not been served any papers as of yet, so they have not issued a statement. But we can imagine they'll probably call it baseless, then start the legal machine and send it after Skyhook.
"Broadcom would like to announce the initial release of a fully-open Linux driver for its latest generation of 11n chipsets," Broadcom announced late last week. "The driver, while still a work in progress, is released as full source and uses the native mac80211 stack."
Broadcom went on to say that the drivers support multiple current chips (BCM4313, BCM43224, BCM43225) while also providing a framework for supporting additional chips in the future, like the mac80211-aware embedded parts.