Converging comms to come

Divisions among wireless hanheld connectivity blur

Wireless handheld devices once resided in distinct connectivity camps: 802.11 Wi-Fi or cellular.

That division, however, has started to blur as dual-mode handheld devices hit the market. These emerging products let users switch between wireless local-area network hot spots and cellular links without interrupting service. The advantage is constant access to applications and uninterrupted phone calls as users move between networks.

Although wireless experts say the technology is in its infancy, it merits the consideration of buyers for whom consistent and complete coverage is important. Greg Wilburn, technical sales consultant at GTSI, said products that provide this flavor of roaming may be appropriate for military and public safety customers. He said such customers require high-availability networks.

Vendors have begun marketing products that navigate across communications protocols. Cisco Systems, Proxim — which Moseley Associates is in the process of acquiring — and several other large carriers "are now talking about the convergence of 802.11 and cellular technologies," said Vic Berger, lead technologist at CDW Government.

Berger said this marriage has been somewhat overhyped. But he added that the technology could be useful for people who work in a campus environment, such as on a military base, but often perform their duties elsewhere. In the seamless handoff scenario, a user making a voice-over-IP (VOIP) phone call via wireless could leave the campus and continue the call via a cellular network.

An organization wouldn't have to provide as many phones because the wireless VOIP phone could double as a cellular phone. "A lot of people are looking at that as a tremendous cost savings," Berger said.

Examples of dual-mode wireless handheld products include Hewlett-Packard's iPaq h6315. Developed in conjunction with T-Mobile, the product offers integrated 802.11b and Global System for Mobile Communications/General Packet Radio Service. The product debuted last year and costs about $600.

Motorola's CN620 is a similar product. It is part of a shared development effort by Motorola, Avaya and Proxim.

A couple of server and router products also provide roaming across disparate networks. Cisco 3200 Series mobile routers offer voice, data and video communications across different wireless and wired networks, according to the company. Officials in Cook County, Ill., have tested Cisco's mobile router technology in public safety applications for about two years, said Catherine Maras O'Leary, the county's chief information officer.

NetMotion Wireless, meanwhile, provides Mobility XE, a product that has server and client components. It manages transitions as users roam between networks, according to the company. The Sheriff-Coroner Department in Orange County, Calif., uses NetMotion's Mobility XE on its laptop computers and is investigating its use on smart phones running Microsoft Windows CE, said Ed Lee, a project manager at the department.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group