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Monday, May 12, 2008

Episode 53 WIFI-Why Care? Royal Taylor of Motorola

Guest: Royal Taylor III of Motorola

I have been with Symbol Technologies, now Motorola for 8 ½ years. I started out in this industry as a working as a depot repair technician down in Memphis right after I got out of the Navy in 1995. Then I transferred to Pittsburgh and worked doing RF site surveys and installations for wireless computer networks. I came to Symbol as a Systems Engineer and moved over to the Territory Manager role last year.

Motorola and Wi-Fi:
Motorola has been in the radio business for about 70 years. Wi-Fi is really just another radio but it has a high data rate for transmission of data rather than voice. Motorola is the second largest manufacturer of enterprise Wi-Fi infrastructure in the world.
What is Wi-Fi?

The term "Wi-Fi" suggests "Wireless Fidelity",
comparing with the long-established audio recording term "High Fidelity" or "Hi-Fi", and "Wireless Fidelity" has often been used in an informal way, even by the Wi-Fi Alliance itself, but officially the term does not mean anything. "Wi-Fi" was coined by a brand consulting firm called Interbrand Corporation that had been hired by the Alliance to determine a name that was "a little catchier than 'IEEE 802.11b Direct Sequence'.

So, in a nutshell “Wi-Fi” refers to a set of standards officially titled IEEE 802.11b. The organization Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance or WECA was created to test wireless devices for their compliance with the 802.11b standard. Those that were compliant received the Wi-Fi seal of approval.
Ok, so what does this mean to our listeners that want to sit on their porch with their laptop and surf the web while they watch their kids play in the yard?

The Wi-Fi standard means that any device be it a laptop, wireless access point, phone, or pda with the Wi-Fi sticker will all work together. The 802.11n draft 2 looks like it will be very close to what is ratified, so if would like to invest in 802.11n I would recommend that you look at the sticker to make sure that the radio chip set is based on 802.11n draft 2. Also think about this if you have a “need for speed.” Your typical cable modem connection might run as fast as 5Mbit/s. So if that’s all that you have coming in to your house, why do you need a data rate of 248Mbit/s which yields a throughput (after overhead) of about 74 Mbit/s?

What do I need to know if I am going to Panera or Starbucks or some other location that offers free Wi-Fi?

If you have want to use your device to connect to any WiFi hotspot, go for it! However, I would recommend a few of things.
1. That you don’t have any of your drives shared. Shared drives can be hacked in to by folks that know how very easily!
2. If your company has a VPN use it! VPN is a Virtual Private Network that encrypts everything you send and receive over your network connection.
3. Leave your wireless connection off until you need it and make sure you are not it “ad-hoc” mode! Ad-hoc mode allows your computer to directly connect to any other computer that it “hears”. This can be very bad. Make sure that you set up your wireless connection for “Infrastructure only”. If you need to connect directly to someone else’s computer, use ad-hoc, then remember to turn it off when you are finished.

Benefits of Wi-Fi for business: Enterprise wireless networks as we discussed, allow business to have mobile computers that are truly mobile. That is, they can roam around a facility just like you do with your cell phone, but inside the four walls. A properly designed and installed wireless network in retail store for example, will allow the managers to be on the floor more because they will not have access to the applications that used to be available only on the computer in their back office, on a mobile computer which they can carry in their pocket. Now with the power of convergence, that mobile computer can also be used as a telephone so that the manager can make and receive calls as if they were at their desk; a walkie talkie that can be used in a one to one conversation or a one to many for paging, and even a video surveillance system that allows viewing of security camera feeds right on the mobile device anywhere inside that Wi-Fi coverage.

Benefits of Wi-Fi for home: Just like for business, Wi-Fi in our home allows us to use our laptop computers anywhere in our home so that we are not stuck behind our desk or in one room. So that means on the warm summer days that are approaching, you can sit on your porch and watch the kids in your back yard while you continue to work on your laptop computer connected by Wi-Fi to the Internet or with a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to your corporate network. My daughter even has Wi-Fi in her hand held video game. This allows her to interact with other people all over the planet

Cautions of using Wi-Fi at home: If you do purchase Wi-Fi for home you need to be sure to setup security on your network. If you just take the Wi-Fi access point or router and plug it into your network, you are now broadcasting everything on your network to the whole world! When Wi-Fi was first becoming popular there were people called War Drivers. These War Drivers use to drive around with high gain antennas made out of Pringles Potato Chip cans looking for unsecured wireless networks. We could spend a whole show talking about security but my recommendation is to read the manual that comes with your Access Point or Wireless router and at least use WEP if not higher levels of security including encryption and authentication.

The future of Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi has evolved tremendously since the first standard was ratified in 1999. Now the data rates are getting fast enough that businesses are installing totally wireless networks which can run all of their computers, printers and telephones. With the latest Wi-Fi Standard, 802.11n, to be ratified next year, data rates are expected to be 248 MBit/s.

Hot Motorola Product

Enterprise VOIP and WVOIP for business: It’s not the $.02/minute consumer stuff. VOIP for Enterprises is an extension of your regular telephone service. The difference is that they put the voice calls on to your Ethernet network instead of the old school telephone lines. Now to confuse it even more, VOIP can be wireless! With a WVOIP extension, you can forward your desk phone number to your mobile or you can use a wireless “skinny” phone device in place of a desktop phone. One of the greatest things that is coming, and one of Motorola’s visions for the very near future is a completely converged WVIOP system. What I am talking about is a system that would allow you to use your cellular phone outside of your office. Then when you return to your office, even if you are in the middle of a call, your cell phone automatically and seamlessly roam onto the WIFI network at your corporation. That allows you to use one phone for everything.

VOIP for Home: This is a lot different than for business. I use Vonage for my home connection but there are other great services that actually put your local telephone number on the Internet. To use these you must have a relatively high bandwidth Internet connection like DSL or Cable and a box that hooks up to the Internet and then you simply plug your home telephone into the box and you are on! There are also wireless handsets for home use. These connect using your home WIFI across the Internet.

VOIP Problems for the residence: IF you lose power, you lose everything! Also there have been major concerns for 911 use so if you sign up for a system like Vonage then you will need to certify your location.

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