In the May 9 edition of Mobile & Wireless UPDATE, I looked at connection options for Wi-Fi, the 802.11b wireless standard, and Bluetooth wireless networks. This time, I continue my discussion of wireless networking options by looking at some specialized solutions that you might find useful after you set up your Wi-Fi network.
Various vendors have developed Voice over IP (VoIP) phones that use Wi-Fi to operate. For example, Symbol Technologies' NetVision VoIP phones offer functionality that's similar to that of cordless phones; however, the NetVision VoIP phone offers a variety of features that let you make the most of your wireless solution. For example, the phone supports the H.323 VoIP protocol, which lets you connect to the traditional telephony system through the Wi-Fi network. The H.323 support also means that the solution doesn't lock you into one vendor; the system supports various VoIP gateways, such as those that Cisco and Ericsson offer. You aren't limited by a typical cordless phone's range, but in an enterprise environment, you can roam with the phone as far as your Wi-Fi network reaches, including your office, warehouse, and campus environment. Much like a Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) phone, the NetVision solution supports simultaneous voice input, text input, scanned input, and Web browsing. For more information about the Symbol NetVision solution, go to http://www.symbol.com/products/wireless/voice_over_ip.html
Linksys is releasing a new Wi-Fi device called the Instant Wireless Presentation Gateway. You use the Instant Wireless Presentation Gateway to present Microsoft PowerPoint presentations (and other data) from any PC that has Wi-Fi connectivity onto any VGA device (e.g., a projector). Linksys is aiming this solution at the enterprise sector. As far as my needs are concerned, the product's usefulness remains to be seen. When I present or work on documents with a team, I typically use one laptop. However, the product might prove useful because it permits team members to present at different times from any laptop in the room. For more information about the Instant Wireless Presentation Gateway, go to http://www.linksys.com/press/press.asp?prid=71&cyear=2002
Another specialized Wi-Fi solution is the wireless Internet camera, which you can use for a variety of security applications. D-Link Systems offers such a solution in its Wi-Fi-enabled Wireless Internet Camera. Over your Wi-Fi wireless network and existing Internet connection, you can view streaming video and photo stills. This solution has potential at home and at the office; I'm planning to use a similar solution to monitor my house. The Wireless Internet Camera has a built-in Web server that lets you access video and photographs directly over HTTP through a Web site address (e.g., http://mydomain.com/home). The device also supports SMTP; with the use of an add-on motion-detection device, you can configure the Wireless Internet Camera to send you an email message, complete with attached photo, when the product detects movement. For more information about the Wireless Internet Camera, go to http://www.dlink.com/products/digitalhome/digitalvideo/dcs1000w/
Another type of Wi-Fi device that deserves mention is the wireless bridge. Various vendors are beginning to offer this device, which lets you use a Wi-Fi connection to connect two wired LANs. For example, suppose your company has an office on one floor and you're expanding to occupy space above or below the existing space. Instead of physically wiring the floors together, you could use a Wi-Fi connection to bridge the two LANs. If bandwidth is a concern, 802.11a (at 54Mbps) might be a better option for higher-bandwidth wireless bridging.
Recently, both John Ruley and I have received constructive feedback and ideas from readers about the Mobile & Wireless UPDATE. We're always happy to address any questions or evaluate solutions, so please send along any comments you have about this UPDATE. You can contact me directly or use the contact information at the end of this newsletter.
In the next regular edition of Mobile & Wireless UPDATE, I'll take a final look at wireless networking considerations. See you then.