The Pipeline

Wireless continues humming

Government resellers report that agencies are snapping up wireless devices, and they're the ones who should know. Resellers, interviewed recently about the end-of-fiscal-year buying season, said agencies are cautious about security but are otherwise hungry for technology that lets them leave their offices and stay connected.

Vendors have been happy to respond with wireless hardware, software and security solutions, and the crop of new and recent releases shows no signs that this will change.

Intermec Technologies Corp. has added software from IBM Corp. to its 700 Series of handheld computers to connect users as they move through wireless network coverage areas, called seamless roaming.

Using IBM's WebSphere Everyplace Connection Manager software, Intermec's system monitors available networks and automatically switches wireless traffic through the lowest-cost option. That can include switching from one standard to another, such as moving from a wireless fidelity (WiFi) connection to Bluetooth as the user moves from one network area to another.

Speaking of WiFi, which is less lyrically called 802.11b, Los Angeles-based GigaFast Inc. recently announced two new 802.11b wireless devices that it will release later this fall. The 802.11b wireless standard governs the transmission of data via wireless local-area networks. Although a newer, faster standard, called 802.11g, is getting established, 802.11b devices are not likely to disappear anytime soon.

The company plans to introduce a wireless access point with a four-port router and a USB adapter. The access point/ router combination broadcasts the wireless signal, and the USB adapter allows a remote computer to receive it.

GigaFast's devices will add to its existing product line and will compete with wireless products already on the market from other companies, including Netgear Inc. Jay Cheng, GigaFast's chief executive officer, said the company has made the small even smaller.

"The new wireless line is a significant upgrade from our previous wireless products," he said. "The USB adapter is one of the smallest wireless adapters on the market."

Meanwhile, Comarco Wireless Test Solutions, based in Irvine, Calif., launched Seven.Five For 1X, a telecommunications testing tool that joins the company's recently released Seven.Five Duo. Seven.Five For 1X performs complete voice, data and video quality-of-service tests on CDMA2000-1X networks. The 1X packet data network provides mobile phone service and high-speed Internet, mobile business applications and other communications. Its use across North America is growing, Comarco officials believe.

Telecommunications management may be less glamorous than wireless products, but it's necessary for efficiency. Knowledge Equity Partners Inc. in Denver has released CiruiTrac and PhoneTrac, two software products that aid in effective management of telecom resources.

Both software packages allow users to track circuits, equipment, service orders, warranty work and billing. They also document critical information in a secure database, make the most of existing infrastructure, assess network vulnerabilities and aid in disaster recovery. PhoneTrac is designed for agencies with simpler networks, while CircuiTrac includes more complex features for more expansive implementations.

September software leaves no paper trail

As summer gives way to fall, vendors are announcing a variety of new specialized software applications. Autumn brings crisp air, colorful leaves and deadlines for the Government Paperwork Elimination Act.

Adobe Systems Inc. has released Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions, a product that allows government agencies to add forms-processing tools to the free Adobe Reader software. The company is touting the products as a GPEA tool that enables agency employees to download, save, fill in, digitally sign and submit electronic PDF documents.

Across the ocean, a German company, Cad-Kas GbR, has released an upgraded PDF editor, called — and their marketing department probably spent months on this one — PDF Editor. The software allows users to add text, annotate, change text or delete words from PDF documents. The program can also change the order of pages, delete pages or hide information on a page that Acrobat Reader won't display.

IBM introduced the WebSphere Portal for e-Government Access, a software product designed to integrate applications, processes, management and delivery channels to connect agencies to the wider world. The company says the portal fits agencies that need to eliminate paper-based processes and give taxpayers a self-service model for finding information or filling out routine forms.

Government grid center opens

Platform Computing Inc. has opened three Acceleration Centers, including one for government agencies located in Washington, D.C., to provide high-powered grid computing services tailored to meet agencies' needs. Grid computing harnesses clusters of processors to greatly increase processing power. n

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