Verizon Business (VB), which comprises Verizon's Enterprise unit and the former MCI, recently announced the integration of high-speed wireless EV-DO service with its Enterprise Mobility suite. Verizon Wireless' EV-DO network delivers downlink speeds of 400 to 700 Kbps in 181 American markets, in many cases rivaling wireline DSL speeds.
The Enterprise Mobility suite provides remote access to corporate data for workers wherever they are. According to VB's Kevin Gatesman, senior manager of emerging technologies, the company's Access Manager PC software gives users a unified connection interface. "Access Manager manages all their connectivity and the managed security element. Using that client they can connect to dial-up, ISDN, Wi-Fi and now 3G wireless," he said. Access Manager reports EV-DO signal strength and senses Wi-Fi hotspots, which simplifies choosing the best connection method available. In addition to the American EV-DO coverage, users can connect at over 14,000 Wi-Fi hotspots across 45 countries or use dial-up access in 157 countries (61 of which offer toll-free dial-up service).
According to VB's Ralph Montfort, director of access solutions, Enterprise Mobility provides the security required to safely access corporate resources remotely. Access Manager launches a software firewall on the user's computer, which can be managed to provide more aggressive protection for less secure connection methods such as Wi-Fi. Access Manager also ensures all security components are updated before a user connects. If they're not, "you're put into a pool of users who aren't configured properly, and then you get immediately updated," said Montfort. Access Manager also provides virtual private network (VPN) functionality to ensure transmitted data is unreadable if intercepted.
Besides Access Manager, the Enterprise Mobility suite consists of VB's Enterprise Services Manager (ESM), a portal allowing the enterprise to determine which users can access which services, enabling increased security and cost savings.
VB's new Enterprise Mobility offering should prove interesting to companies that demand seamless connectivity for far-flung employees, but it may also give Verizon a leg-up in the enterprise space in general. "Verizon is really selling into enterprises because they can tout the EV-DO network," said Kenneth Hyers, principle analyst of mobile operators for ABI Research. "They're also finding that companies that they weren't able to sell voice to in the past are suddenly interested in hearing from Verizon again because the data is dragging in the voice."
-- Peter M. Ferenczi
We've all seen it happen on the successful, long-running TV drama ER: in the midst of chaos, a hardworking doctor or nurse is attacked by a dangerous patient or distraught family member. Unfortunately, hazardous situations like these don't only happen on TV, or just in emergency rooms. But with the advent of citywide Wi-Fi, mobile workers ranging from hospital staff to those in rugged environments stand to gain from the safety benefits of real-time location services.
Ekahau, a Wi-Fi real-time location solutions (RTLS) provider, is offering the industry's first Wi-Fi--based RTLS specifically for hospital staff after a series of violent attacks in European emergency rooms.
ccording to Tuomo Rutanen, VP of business development for Ekahau, "[The hospitals] wanted ways to quickly diffuse these types of attacks and other forms of violent behavior in the ER that require immediate attention. And it's not just in Europe, it's everywhere. Emergency rooms are chaotic." In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurses, orderlies and other hospital staff were the victims of nearly 5,000 violent assaults in the United States in 2004.
Ekahau's solution includes an alarm system, dubbed a "panic button," that enables security personnel to identify the location where the incident is taking place, ensuring a rapid response. Ekahau's RTLS, which is integrated with a healthcare facility's existing Wi-Fi network, tracks doctors and nurses in real time on a browser via any Web-enabled device. In a potentially dangerous situation, an employee wearing the Ekahau tag would push its alarm button to signal for help, and the signal would be transmitted to the workstations of security personnel as well as to their cell phones via SMS text messaging. "The panic button alert time is a few seconds," says Rutanen, "and can be done where the aggressor does not know that security has been called." In addition, if a person is wearing the Ekahau Wi-Fi tag, the RTLS system can pinpoint their location to within four to six feet.
Since Wi-Fi is required for Ekahau's RTLS solution, campus-style environments are ideal, says Rutanen. Anyone working in a set environment, such as a warehouse or office building, can certainly benefit. However, as major metropolitan areas such as Philadelphia and San Francisco are deploying citywide Wi-Fi initiatives, mobile workers whose travels extend beyond an enterprise campus can also take advantage of RTLS. Utility workers, for example, who work in potentially hazardous environments, can also profit from Ekahau's Wi-Fi tags. If a worker falls or is injured, a simple press of the button can alert supervisors of danger and to the employee's exact location, more quickly and easily than making a phone call.
Six Degrees of Connectivity
Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, an international professional services company, recently announced its trend forecast for 2006. Its predictions included the growth of "connectivity inside everything"--the idea that the telecom industry will continue to expand connectivity systems for machinery at a rapid pace, resulting in improved remote process monitoring, traffic flow monitoring and asset tracking. Craig Wigginton, a national audit partner of telecommunications for Deloitte & Touche's Technology, Media and Telecommunications group, believes that although much of the remote tracking and location systems horizontal is dedicated to tracking employees, there is also a niche for machine tracking. "There are a lot of machines out there. The human side of the equation gets saturated, so this largely untapped market gives us the opportunity to provide extra services."
"Connectivity inside everything" refers to all methods of connectivity, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and RFID, according to Wigginton. "We're looking at the communications side--mostly mobile and end-connectivity," he says. "I think we're going to see a lot more Bluetooth connectivity for cell phone users, since Bluetooth can help with security issues, such as a lost phone." Wigginton also anticipates the growth of WiMAX. "Wi-Fi has a limited distance and penetration of about 30 to 50 feet. WiMAX can yield a larger penetration and a distance of up to 50 miles. It's Wi-Fi on steroids."
Asset tracking will become connectivity's chief application, and Wigginton predicts RFID use will expand in areas such as transportation, automotive, stationary devices and security. "Enterprises can benefit from more intelligent, two-way communications devices with not just tracking devices, but also really useful data, in real-time," he says, citing "data" as anything from security video footage to office equipment.
The utilities industry could use connectivity to remotely upgrade modems or other hardware. Wigginton even expects increased connectivity in rural or agricultural areas. "There is actually something called a 'corn cam,'" he explains, "that can track weather, temperature and rainfall."
The type of connectivity expansion is tailored to meet the individual needs of an enterprise, whether it be tracking important equipment or installing on-site cameras to ensure that employees aren't sleeping on the job. "This is not a one-size-fits-all type of situation," says Wigginton. Connectivity service charges are also expected to be customer-specific, since enterprises will subscribe for a flat rate and then be charged extra for going over.
Wigginton describes the "connectivity inside everything" trend as gradual and one that will continue to expand across all verticals, to the mutual benefit of enterprises and connectivity providers. "We've seen a lot of this stuff start to progress over the past decade. The reality is, we're finally on the cusp of really being able to make machines intelligent, to get information to people who need it, anywhere, anytime. It's not the Jetsons yet. But we're getting there."
Wireless Makes More Waves
Everywhere you go these days it seems nearly every person you see is walking around with a cell phone, gabbing about business deals or Aunt Betty's apple pie recipe. Based on simple personal observations, you'd think that everyone in the United States has embraced the use of cell phones as part of a mobile lifestyle. Surprisingly, there's still a lot of room for growth.
According to the Cellular Telecom-munications Industry Association's Web site, there are 204.5 million estimated cell phone users in the United States. As there are nearly 300 million Americans, that represents market penetration of approximately 68 percent. The largest network operator in the United States, Cingular, boasts 52.3 million subscribers, with Verizon Wireless right behind with 49.3 million, Sprint Nextel with 45.6 million and T-Mobile with 20.3 million. Pretty good, though those numbers still leave the wireless market with some room to grow.
Comparing U.S. wireless usage to Western Europe shows stark differences. About 11 of the 16 major markets in Western Europe now have official penetration rates above the 100 percent mark. The most penetrated at the end of 2005 were Luxembourg (160 percent), Italy (119 percent), Portugal (114 percent) and Sweden (112 percent). Others above 100 percent include Greece, the United Kingdom, Spain, Ireland, Finland, Austria, the Netherlands and Denmark. The reason these markets show over 100 percent penetration is because many people have more than one device, often using separate phones for personal and business purposes.
Looking at the latest growth charts from ITU, National Regulator and CTIA, predictions show that there will be approximately 220 million cell phone subscribers in 2007 and 235 million by 2008. While wireless usage does continue to grow, its growth rate is slowing (8 percent growth in 2006, 6 percent in 2007, 5 percent in 2008). When the eventual market saturation occurs, the network operators will have to aggressively pursue other revenue streams. This is already well under way, with high-speed wireless data networks of differing varieties available from the major network operators across the United States.
By all reports, wireless use continues to make a major impact on the economy. Total minutes of use increased by 31 percent between 2004 and 2005, and monthly SMS messages were up 32 percent when comparing 2004 and 2005 numbers. As mobility penetrates every facet of how enterprises do business, these trends will continue to rise as more and more data services and products are available over the networks. --Eric M. Zeman
In The News
Intelsat, a global communications provider, has announced a partnership with Connexion by Boeing, a provider of high-speed Internet services for the aeronautical market, to launch a new maritime communications service. Connexion by Boeing will use two Intelsat satellites to gain coverage across the mid-Atlantic and Indian Ocean regions and will offer mobile information services to maritime vessels.
Troops Networks, a provider of large-scale Wi-Fi mesh network systems, will be collaborating with The Cloud, a European hotspot operator, to deliver metro-scale mesh networks to cities in the U.K. and Europe. The partnership will expand The Cloud's capabilities by offering more users broadband wireless networks, mobile Internet access and wireless voice services.
AeroScout, a Wi-Fi--based locations and visibility solutions company, has announced a partnership with healthcare technology providers Emergin, InfoLogix and MobileAccess. The joint efforts will integrate AeroScout's location solutions with large-scale medical information systems.
Openera Technologies, a developer of 3G and IMS mobile client applications, has announced a licensing partnership with handset manufacturer Samsung, to integrate Openera's IMS Mobile Client and application solution suite into Samsung's mobile phones, enabling users to quickly access multimedia services. The Openera suite was selected for its high level of interoperability with IMS infrastructures.
Commtouch, a developer of RPD technology for real-time anti-spam and virus protection, has announced a licensing agreement with Intoto, a provider of network security software. Commtouch's technologies will be integrated into Intoto's iGateway EX and RGS software platforms, and will add protection to standard security measures.
Mobile data network service provider Aicent has entered into an agreement with Royal KPN N.V., a European telecommunications services provider, to expand its network via KPN EuroRings, a fiberoptic network. The agreement allows Aicent customers in Europe to connect to all of Aicent's mobile messaging solutions through local POP connections in major cities in 18 countries that are covered by KPN EuroRings' network.
Mobixell Networks, a supplier of mobile multi-media services, showcased Webcast and content delivery solutions jointly with Sun Microsystems at the 3GSM World Congress 2006. Sun Java System Content Delivery Server and Mobixell both provide users with multimedia content and messaging services. The joint demonstration introduced time-sensitive content, support of Web portals and more.
SUPERNET Limited, a major data network operator and Internet service provider in Pakistan, has been deployed by Aperto Networks, an international WiMAX systems provider, for the use of its PacketWAVE broadband wireless system in Karachi. The 3.5GHz wireless network will supply high-speed data connectivity throughout major urban areas of Pakistan.
LHS, a German-based international provider of telecom customer care and billing systems, has announced that Cosmo Bulgaria Mobile (GloBul) has selected its BSCS iX as the billing solution for its 3G voice, data, content and Internet services. BSCS iX is a fully convergent end-to-end billing and customer care system that GloBul anticipates will help it to advance in the competitive Bulgarian market.
Redknee, a provider of infrastructure software, has been deployed by European mobile telecommunications supplier 02 Ireland to deploy its mCommerce Gateway, which enables customers to make secure mobile
payments and manage expenditures using mobile handsets. 02 Ireland will be the first operator in Ireland to offer mobile payments.
MessageOne, a business continuity company, has been selected by the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System, a coalition of more than 780 law enforcement agencies, to supply the MessageOne AlertFind as its emergency communications platform. The AlertFind system was initially deployed by ILEAS in 2005 and was used in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
RF Code, a developer of RFID asset tracking solutions, has appointed Robert Hart as VP of operations. Hart previously served as senior VP of operations at RFID technology provider Matrics and led AT&T Power Systems and Symbol Technologies in earning the Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing award.
Broadband phone provider Vonage has announced the appointment of its new CEO, Mike Snyder, who will oversee day-to-day operations. Jeffrey A. Citron, its previous CEO, has been promoted to chairman and chief strategist and will dedicate his time to moving the company toward new technology and growth.