Day: March 14, 2006

Public Broadband Adoption Pegged at 41.2 Million in US

In what is surely good news for remote monitoring vendors, the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA - wait, doesn't that stand for transische...) reported 42.1 million Americans now have broadband Internet access. Of course, let’s just footnote that by noting that US broadband means higher than 200 Kpbs in at least one direction, so that 256 Kbps down/128 Kbps service is technically broadband. Still, not too many cavils need to apply, with the majority of broadband connections noted in other studies having at least 1 Mbps of downstream speed, with an increasing minority running 3 to 6 Mbps. Here are the statistics for the marketing wonks: The TIA says 4.5m subscribers had broadband in 2000 before cable modems started to make inroads. Today, 17m broadband subscribers access the Internet over DSL and 22.5 via cable. The 2009 estimate is 69.2m total (23.8m DSL, 35.9m cable). Fixed and mobile wireless, satellite Internet, and fiber to the home will make up the difference, with nearly 10m subscribers across those technologies. The TIA estimate 1.5m fixed wireless and 2.0m mobile wireless subscribers. The study also projects a steady cost for DSL connections, with speeds increasing. Cable modem prices are expected to fall almost 5% annualized over the next 4 years. All in all, this is good news for home health and remote monitoring proponents - broad adoption of broadband connectivity to the Internet...

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The 802.11n

Last Thursday saw the IEEE approve draft 1.0 of 802.11n. Competing groups of vendors have been struggling over the direction of 802.11n for some time, but a group of chip makers, including Atheros, Broadcom, Intel, and Marvell pushed through a near unanimous voted for the draft. [...] the proposal will now be sent out for balloting among 802.11 Working Group members for a 40-day period. Ballots will vote up or down on accepting this draft, and will bring back comments and requests for changes. In the May meeting, those changes will be discussed, and some will be adopted and others not. If all goes well, a re-ballot will happen following a similar course. In July, a final draft could win the day, which would then go on to a group of experts at a higher IEEE level who typically approve drafts—by the time they’ve reached this point, most technical and harmonization issues across 802 (networks) and 802.11 (wireless networks) have been settled. Meanwhile, manufacturers will probably start firing up the silicon ovens. McFarland said that Atheros was already in sampling, and it was very encouraging that “In getting to this 1.0 draft very few technical changes needed to be made.” There is a very low risk, he said, of significant changes being made before a final draft is accepted that would require changes in silicon. If you're looking for...

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The Wi-Fi Alliance Makes WPA2 Mandatory for New Products

Vendors with new products that want to display the Wi-Fi certification seal, will now have to incorporate WPA2, the version of Wi-Fi Protected Access that includes the full IEEE 802.11i security spec, such as AES-CCMP encryption keys. New product support of WPA2 will force some existing product upgrades to remain competitive. This new standard is the one to use for health care applications, especially wireless medical devices. By using this standard, embedded radios (which can't be swapped out for a radio with proprietary security) can operate on a hospital's WLAN while providing adequate...

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The 802.11s Standard for Mesh Networks Moves Forward

After an IEEE meeting of the 802.11s mesh networking task group, there could be a unified standard that mesh devices could conform to for interoperability within a year. Two leading groups with separate proposals, instead of slugging it out for a year or two, asked for and were given permission to attempt to merge into a joint proposal in January. At last week’s IEEE meeting, the joint proposal was unanimously confirmed as the basis on which to proceed. There's also an interesting bit that highlights one of the risks of early adoption. [...] one risk to municipal networks’ early adoption was that at least four major metro-scale mesh equipment vendors are still categorized as startups. A shutdown or change in direction could leave superannuated equipment scattered like Metricom’s or Vivato’s. And some technical details for the geeks: A standard at least moves towards the potential of a trade group emerging that could set profiles—a la WiMax Forum—for kinds of mesh behavior. There could be single radio, switched multiple radio, contention-free sectorized mesh, and other profiles probably designed by frequency (2.4 GHz, 4.9 GHz, and 5 GHz); it’s unlikely there would be a one-size-fits-all. Standards open industries to additional competition, but they can also soothe worried purchasers. There are presently a couple ZigBee mesh network based RFID solutions on the market from AwarePoint and InnerWireless. StatCom has a programmable data...

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Minnesota Legislator Targets Medical Device Vendors

The dust-up over recent medical device recalls continues, in the St Paul Pioneer Press: In an effort to get medical-device manufacturers to pay "for their mistakes," a a lawmaker introduced a bill at the Capitol on Monday that would require the companies to cover medical costs when their devices are replaced because of a recall. While med-tech companies provide a free replacement device, it is the patient's insurance that typically pays for the surgery and related costs. I seem to recall Guidant springing for a few thousand per patient to cover surgical costs related to their recent recall - certainly not enough, but something. I'm also surprised that some enterprising trail attorney hasn't filed a class action lawsuit against Guidant or Medtronic over unreimbursed costs entailed in their recalls (not to mention pain and suffering). The industry and its regulators have come under fire for what some see as an inadequate system for detecting potential defects in devices and reporting those defects to doctors and patients. Medtronic spokesman Rob Clark said in a statement that state and local initiatives such as the one proposed by [state Rep. Tony] Cornish [R-Good Thunder] were "unnecessary." "We believe that any changes or new solutions should be developed at the federal level by private and public payers and industry," Clark said. It sounds like the medical device vendors think they can get a...

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