We’ve heard a lot about Web services for several years. The descriptions of Web services are wide and varied. These descriptions have different levels of depth and breath but, for me
at least, I like to keep things as simple as possible. I like the simple definition that Sun Microsystems used in a July 2004 technical white paper. In that paper it says – “In
simplest terms, a Web service is an application. That is, a Web service provides a defined set of functionality to achieve a specific end… The promise of Web services is to put any
application – regardless of the platform on which it is developed or the architecture on which it is deployed – within the reach of any client.”
It is still very early in the maturity of mobile web services but I can see the beginnings of a push into that market space by some influential organizations. Microsoft chairman Bill Gates
has been talking about software being the next driver of innovation in the telecom industry. He even announced at the ITU Telecom World 2003 in Geneva an agreement with Vodafone to provide
mobile web services. Charles Fitzgerald, general manager of Microsoft’s platform strategies group, followed this up by telling Wireless NewsFactor Network “the first phase of Web services laid a foundation. Advancing Web services into the mobile space with a
mobile-network operator is a natural next step. Mobile Web services will harness the power of XML Web services’ software integration capabilities …. Providing the mobile-telecommunications
and PC industries with compelling new scenarios.” Mr. Fitzgerald went on to say “Microsoft and Vodafone will work with other industry vendors to collaborate on the development of mobile Web
Is there a need for mobile Web services? Is it riding on the coattails of the larger world of Web services? Are there enough standards in place so that organizations can begin
implementing Web services and mobile Web services with a level of confidence for the future?
We can look back about a year and see where Web services has come from in order to begin answering those questions. A report from Wireless NewsFactor Network looked at the emergence of Web services about a year ago. It reported that a study done by
IDC’s Lucie Draper indicated “the idea of Web services as a solution has touched the large portion of North American organizations.” The report went on to indicate that:
So, how does this relate back to mobile Web services and its ability to increase adoption? I believe that mobile Web services needs as its foundation a sound set of standards and
architectures. XML and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) are two that are becoming well defined and standardized. Mobile Web services also needs a killer app to be identified in order
to accelerate its adoption. Any mobile Web services need to ensure reliability across networks and organizations. A way needs to be found to guarantee that the information
securely travels from the disparate, internal, back-end applications that typically provide information for delivery by Web services to the appropriate form in use by the end user. Will the
development of mobile Web services center around Java or .Net architectures? My money is on the marketplace as the deciding element. Organizations will need to look at business drivers
and opportunities as the driving factors in what they can do with mobile Web services and the right technology for its implementation.
There are many players in this mobile Web services space. Some will fall by the wayside. Many more will enter. Here are some articles by several of the early players about the
technical side of mobile Web services:
If you have any first hand experience with mobile Web services or have a question pertaining to Mobile Web Services that you would like to share with our readers send me an email and I will update everyone in a future column.
Wireless Nuggets of Knowledge
Following are a few interesting articles and discussions on wireless:
Mobile Phone Get Flashy
Macromedia is diving deeper into the micromedia world with product, service and acquisition plans to develop Flash content and services for cell phones.
WiFi Toughens Up
802.11i, the long-awaited bigger and badder Wi-Fi security spec, was ratified by the IEEE last week.
IEEE ratifies 802.16d wireless broadband standard
The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) has ratified the 802.16-2004, or 802.16d, wireless broadband standard. This is a big event in the development of 802.16 and WiMAX,
which is a sub-standard of IEEE-defined 802.16 technology. 802.16d will eventually form the core of the emerging wireless broadband technology called WiMAX, which promises to revolutionize the
fixed-wireless market by establishing an industry standard for wireless broadband networks. The WiMAX Forum, an industry group promoting the WiMAX standard, will eventually certify wireless
broadband solutions using 802.16d as official WiMAX products. Such a move, however, may not happen until early 2006.
Sprint, IBM, Microsoft partner for mobile Web services
Sprint PCS plans to launch new mobile enterprise services through its partnership with IBM. Using IBM’s WebSphere Everyplace Service Delivery (WESD) software, Sprint will enable its mobile
enterprise customers to launch new Websphere-compatible mobile apps. IBM’s software will add location, presence, and messaging capabilities to Sprint’s new mobile enterprise offerings.
Microsoft is also partnering with Sprint to use IBM’s platform to deliver new applications for Sprint’s customers. Sprint plans to launch new mobile Web services through these two partnerships
starting next month. Sprint forged a strategic partnership with IBM in February. This announcement is the first major product announcement to come out of this partnership. Sprint estimates the
new service will be available for its enterprise customers starting at $10 per month per user.
Intel claims WiMAX will be ready for notebooks by 2006
Intel is standing by its earlier prediction that WiMAX technology will be ready to bundle with new notebooks by the end of 2006. Critics, however, are skeptical, pointing out the company’s
recent delays with WiFi chips and lingering problems with its most recent processors. The IEEE last month ratified 802.16d, the fixed-wireless component of the emerging WiMAX wireless broadband
standard. Commercially available WiMAX equipment — such as network gear and WiMAX wireless modems — are not expected until early 2005. Intel this year forged WiMAX partnerships with Proxim and
Alcatel. The company is promoting WiMAX as a way to boost its chip sales for mobile devices such as notebooks, PDAs, and cell phones.
For travelers, Netgear has released a “pocket” 802.11g wireless router, the WGR101, that includes both Network Address Translation (NAT) routing and Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI) firewalls,
IPSec and PPTP VPN pass-through, 64- and 128-bit WEP encryption, and wireless SSID suppression. It can also be software-upgraded to WPA security. A three-mode switch allows users to select between
single-user and multi-user modes, simplifying configuration on the road when setting up ad-hoc wireless LANs in hotel and other facilities. The router connects to a standard Ethernet jack.charge.
Intel and Proxim are teaming to deliver base-station and subscriber-unit access points for data, voice, and video services via fixed and portable broadband wireless access using the IEEE 802.16
standard popularly known as WiMax. The base stations will be based on the 802.16e standard that allows roaming across base stations.
AT&T Wireless is offering what is says are the first ruggedized mobile PCs that support the Enhanced Data Rate for GSM Evolution (EDGE) cellular data technology, which is the next step up from
the Global Packet Radio Service (GPRS) technology more commonly deployed. The EDGE field service offering includes the Hewlett-Packard Rugged Notebook nr3600 and the HP Rugged Tablet PC
tr3000 with Dexterra’s field-service application for industries such as telecommunications, utilities, health care, manufacturing, and transportation. The suite offers service
management, real-time monitoring of service calls, service planning and scheduling, logistics management, up-sell and cross-sell capabilities, and financial processing in several industry-specific
Rio Rancho, N.M., is deploying a citywide hot-spot system in hopes of attracting business. The hot spot is an extension of Wi-Fi access deployed at a nearby Intel chip facility and will be
implemented by Usurf America and is planned to cover 103 square miles and serve the 58,000 residents. City leaders hope the citywide hot spot will attract businesses because they won’t need
expensive landlines for high-speed Internet access.
Homeland Security Department’s wireless networks vulnerable
A report by the Inspector General (IG) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) harshly criticizes the department for having failed to develop and maintain adequate security measures to
protect the department’s own wireless networks. As a result, sensitive information about terrorist threats and protective countermeasures is not monitored, and it can be readily accessed and
misused. The IG found, for example, that in some cases there were no firewalls between wired and wireless networks and no checks to see whether rogue devices had been introduced into the network.
Moreover, investigators discovered that in quite a few cases, DHS wireless signals reached beyond the perimeters of secure facilities so that they could be picked up by unauthorized listeners
stationed in the parking lot or driving by on an adjacent highway.
Service for Vision-Impaired Arrived
Finally, there are signs that the wireless world is becoming more user-friendly for sight and hearing impaired. Cingular Wireless and ScanSoft have teamed together to give this population group,
estimated at around 10 million people in the United States, access to advanced wireless services when using a Nokia 6620. Dubbed TALKS, the speech-enabled application “speaks” out caller ID,
battery level, signal level and other functions to the mobile user. How well it works is still to be determined because despite the potential in these new services, it does ultimately depend on
the availability of devices that offer faster data speeds (when sign language is relayed via video), larger keypads or both. Still, it’s good to see that niche groups like the sight and
hearing impaired are able to enjoy mobile technology that general consumers do.
TI trying to slow down WiMAX march
Intel’s growing interest in WiMAX was guaranteed to hasten the emergence of a countervailing group of companies eager to prevent, or at least slow down, Intel’s effort to dominate yet another
facet of the wireless world. Texas Instruments has now stepped forward to lead a chorus of doubters about WiMAX as a DSL alternative. Nancy Gohring correctly points out that if WiMAX fails, it
will not be for the reasons cited by TI — China’s hesitation about the technology, or the currently high prices, for example. More worrisome for WiMAX’s prospects is the fact that, in the US,
only a few spectrum holders own the licenses which would be suitable for a WiMAX deployment, and it is far from clear that they would be interested in the technology. The notable exception is
Nextel, but other large operators do not own prime spectrum similar to Nextel’s, and they would be wary about any major deployment in unlicensed frequencies.
Another problem for WiMAX is that its mobile version, which even TI admits would be attractive, is not ready yet; and by the time it is, it might have been leapfrogged by other technologies now
on the drawing board or in the lab. “Ultimately, there are plenty of forces working against WiMax but much of what the TI executive says here sounds to me like sour grapes,” Gohring concludes.
10% of Australian broadband to be wireless by 2007
According to a new study from Ovum, roughly 10 percent of all broadband connections in Australia will be wireless by 2007. The researcher predicts 298,000 of 3.1 million broadband connections
serving Australian businesses and consumers will be wireless within three years. The figure includes both WiMAX and fixed-wireless access, though WiMAX will be the likely catalyst for much of the
growth. The study does not cover 3G cellular networks.
Startup Rolls Out RFID Transition Tool
As the industry slowly moves ahead with RFID integration, one of the critical issues has been the need for retailers to seamlessly work with both bar-code and RFID readers.
RFID hits potential snag as patent holder demands royalties
Intermec Technologies is now demanding royalties for the use of technology related to a new RFID protocol. The new protocol — known as Electronic Product Code Generation 2 — is being created to
improve compatibility and interoperability of RFID devices such tag readers and network equipment. The new standard of RFID will be finalized next month. Many industry insiders now fear that
everyone with a related patent is going to start demanding royalties. If this happen, the entire RFID development process could be delayed. It could also spell the end of RFID as a royalty-free,
open standard, raising the costs of equipment and deployment and possibly delaying the adoption of the technology.
Heavy Hitters Turn To WiMAX; The Future is Bright
Until recently it appeared that no other activity was more popular among analysts than to loftily declare that WiMAX was “over-hyped.” The market is a better judge of what is over-hyped
and what is real, and the market is speaking loudly and clearly with three of the industry’s heavy hitters betting on the technology:
- Nortel joins WiMAX Forum, plans to be an active WiMAX player
Nortel will contribute its expertise in MIMO smart antenna systems and OFDM signal processing techniques to work on the 802.16d-based metropolitan area standard, saying that these technologies
will “greatly enhance WiMAX’s potential for widespread adoption by improving spectral efficiency and data rates.” The company has been working on combining OFDM and MIMO in WLAN
implementations for some time now.
- Cisco also joins WiMAX Forum
Networking behemoth Cisco Systems is the latest addition to the WiMAX Forum, a move confirming the company’s intent to compete in the nascent 802.16 WMAN market. “IEEE 802.16 (WiMAX) offers a
very interesting value proposition to customers, particularly in the area of delivering wireless broadband to entire sections of metropolitan areas,” the company said.
- Intel will add WiMAX to Handsets in 2007
The company has sampled its first Rosedale silicon and revealed plans to add the technology to handsets in 2007. Intel’s Rosedale chip set includes a 802.16-2004 compliant MAC, an OFDM PHY, an
integrated 10/100 Ethernet core, an inline security block, and a controller interface. The chip’s security core would include both AES and DES capabilities, both required by WiMAX
For more on the Nortel strategy Click here
For more on the CISCO strategy Click here
For more on the Intel strategy Click here
Wireless Info Center: