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Green Day for Wi-Fi, For Cisco

I was walking up 8th Avenue in Manhattan yesterday, listening to Green Day on my IPod, as I wove my way through the pedestrian tango of Midtown. “Time grabs you by the wrist and directs you where to go”I grabbed Unstrung’s Dan Jones by his wrist and pulled him into the new Hearst Tower, which has been officially designated the first building to receive a Gold LEED certified rating for “core and shell and interiors” in New York City from the United States Green Building Council. Building on a series of “diagrid” traingles, reaching upwards, like a series of giant glass and metal slashes 46 stories into the sky, the Hearst Tower is a marvel of technology, ecology and architecture. And -this is where Dan comes in — it turns out Hearst has deployed a Unified Wireless LAN throughout the entire 856,000 square feet of the Tower, to help it meet both its mobility needs as well as support its green strategy. http://www.unstrung.com/document.asp?doc_id=104257&WT.svl=news2_1Rising out of the stone Art Deco shell of the earlier Hearst building, the 46 floor tower- Used 20% less steel to construct- Reycled 90% of the materials of the original building- Is furnished with bio-sustainable materials for the furniture and carpeting- Uses sensors (vs. light switches) to turn off the power in rooms when no one is in them- Uses RF shielding to keep the building cool (and, interesting, lowers the amount of RF signal bleed out of the building)- Collects rainwater from the room which is collected in a 16,000 gallon tank to provide a magnificent waterfall in the atrium and cooling for the lower floors. For more on the Tower: http://hearst.com/tower/Hearst deployed 260 Lightweight Access Points and 4 WLAN Controllers to provide pervasive mobility services to the more than 2000 employees and thousands of annual visitors working in the Tower. The WLAN connections are delivered through Mobile Access’s Distributed Antenna System (DAS), which also delivers cellular connectivity across the building from base stations from Cingular, Verizon, and T-Mobile.So can wireless be a green technology? Seven environmental drivers stand out how:- Seamlessly roaming around the building (including the magnificent atrium), increases productivity and more fully utilizes the available space- Providing guest networking features allows other users to access the network and avoid traveling back to their offices or to a hotspot- The DAS system reduces cabling: o Requiring less metal to be used o Fewer cables to be pulled and powered (e.g., POE). o Efficiently deliver multiple wireless signals to users while preserving the key features of the Unified system- Reducing costs and energy expended in moves/adds/changes as people change workspace- Supporting location-based services such as asset-tracking can save time and energy. – Enabling real-time access to Web 2.0 types of info and systems can reduce both increase worker productivity and eliminate to print documents or carry CDs or DVDs for accessing relevant work media.. [Warning: Relevant Diversion Alert] The 400 CDs worth of music on my IPod, if they are all delivered digitally, eliminate the need to burn CDs, wrap them in plastic cases that will sit in garbage heaps for thousands of years.- Supporting, over time, additional environmental sensors Imagine using the technology we build to reduce strain on precious earth? Wow, my benchmark lesson came from a company in the printing and media business?Today our CEO John Chambers, speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, announced a signficant Carbon Reduction Initiative, as ever, showing Cisco’s focus on using our own technology to run our business more efficiently. Now we are using our technology to reduce carbon emissions. For more on this effort: http://newsroom.cisco.com/dlls/2006/ts_092106.html?CMP=ILC-001For me, it was a green day in New York. Or as Green Day said in their song”Are We the Waiting”:”Å“Starry nights, city lights coming down over meSkyscrapers, stargazers in my head.”You thought I was going to say Rosebud?

Enter the Era of Pervasive Mobility

Today closes my first week at Cisco. Starting a new job is always momentous, but this one is even more so. I’ve been in the wireless industry for 10 years -a virtual dinosaur -and for the bulk of that time, Cisco has been the networking force in wireless. The acquisition of Aironet in 1999 set the industry on a growth curve that hasn’t slowed since.And that brings to me why this job is so interesting. For 10 years, I’ve been with small companies fighting to gain mindshare in the shadow of Cisco. I’ve done a lot of interesting things and I’d like to think along the way helped a lot of customers, analysts and press understand the exciting new world of wireless and what possibilities it brings. But I sense that the opportunity is bigger now. Read More »

Collaboration, Wi-Fi and Sept. 11

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending a reception for all the parties involved in the Silicon Valley Wireless Mesh Network: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/06/technology/06wireless.html?_r=1&oref=slogin, the winning bidders (including Cisco), the Silicon Valley Partnership, city managers and IT folks, public policy experts and a coterie of other interested parties. While much has been written about this network and mesh networking in general, I will pause on replaying this for the moment as there was another element to the day worth reflecting upon. Read More »

Podcasting Mobility

Glenn Fleishman, editor of the http://wifinetnews.com/, one of the top Blogs in our industry has now taken his Web 2.0 approach a step further with podcasts.We had a chance to rap recently on Mobility and the future of the enterprisehttp://wifinetnews.com/archives/006915.htmlHappy listening

Mobility and choice should trump dogmatism

Last week, CNET’s News.com site ran my signed editorial that provided a counterpoint to a Nortel executive who had written in earlier to state that only cellular technologies were well positioned to support the mobile Internet. While I am an old cellular warrior and a clear fan of the technology — look, it’s impact on the planet cannot be understatated — we as technologists must constantly look past our own pariochial positions on what we build toward what problems we trying to solve, both technically and financially. If we do this, I believe Wi-Fi is going to be a compelling play in the public arena for many reasons. Moreover, I see Wi-Fi complementing other wireless technlogies including cellular, WiMax and others, still to come, in the rush to mobilize societySaid simpler: applications, bandwidth, spectrum and equipment costs must be considered in development of public WAN kinds of services.Here is the piece in its entiretyhttp://news.com.com/Mobility%20+and+choice+should+trump+dogmatism/2010-1034_3-6107934.html?tag=sas.emailIn a recent CNET News.com column, Richard Lowe suggested that Cellular and Wireless LAN are competitive technologies. These two wireless approaches, however, are actually allies in the race to mobilize society.It is worth dispelling three of the WLAN (wireless local area network) myths–security, mobility and bandwidth–raised in Lowe’s article and better understand how both technologies benefit the end user.Security:WLANs already support some of the most demanding, business-critical applications in the world, including stock exchanges, the U.S. government and military, and large manufacturers. Increasingly, security for this technology has become more bulletproof. No longer just a convenience technology, WLANs represent a resilient and robust access method. Indeed, the issue is not whether WLAN is as secure as other wireless approaches, but whether the advanced security features available for this technology are being implemented.WLAN access to the Internet is clearly not inferior to the more closed approaches propelled by cellular equipment vendors.Cellular networks are now, too, subject to viruses and must be self-defending like WLANs. Hence, when thinking about all network security, we must remember the famous words attributed to Thomas Jefferson: “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”Mobility:With the emergence of centralized WLAN management, including techniques derived from earlier cellular systems, mobility is not a weakness but a strength for these networks. Today, many municipalities use mobile access routers in police cars with WLANs to connect to critical information. Our outdoor mesh supports very fast hand-offs, but you are unlikely to be going more than 100 miles per hour in a downtown area to test it. Just in case, though, we demonstrated with Cheever racing at the Indianapolis 500–and reported in CNET News.com just a year ago–that the ultra high-speed mobility barrier can be solved. (http://news.com.com/Wi-Fi+catches+up+with+Indy+500+racers/2100-7351_3-5721547.html?tag=nl)Bandwidth and coverage:Provision of bandwidth to end users is inherently constrained, not simply by network technologies but also by the amount of available spectrum and how a service is provisioned. Clearly, cellular technologies have advantages in areas of sparser population and larger geographies (e.g., suburban and rural areas), but the “you get what you pay for” rule always applies to it. Thus the real issue is not cellular operators versus Google.WLAN access to the Internet is clearly not inferior to the more closed approaches propelled by cellular equipment vendors. Indeed the emergence of rich-media applications such as Unified Communications and video actually support the case for higher-speed WLANs to satisfy customer demand for personalized communications services. I love my Razr, but do not want to use it for a rich-media conferencing application or to watch a movie on its two-inch screen.Why fight? As Infonetics recently reported, we are seeing rocketing appeal of WLAN VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) telephony services, with a particular uptake in the appeal of dual-mode (cellular and WLAN) phones. Infonetics projects WLAN telephony will be a $3.7 billion market in 2009, when 91 percent of revenue is expected to come from dual-mode handsets.As devices increasingly become more dual and multimode, including WiMax, choice in wireless networks will support more cost-effective scenarios for users. When smart devices and users can move from network to network to take advantage of higher performance, lower cost or even different security scenarios, then switching costs drop, and consumers benefit from a world of choice. At the end of the day, consumers do not care what network they connect to but how well their applications perform.Thus, the real issue is not cellular operators versus Google. This is an apples-and-apple-pie comparison. Technology cannot substitute for strong business models, but it can certainly support changing business models. As we learned with Google, if you can direct where people spend their time and focus, the advertising community might build you a pathway of gold.To wit, having worked in the cellular industry during the early phases of cellular, I remember several studies in the late 1980s that suggested cellular use would not exceed 1 million phones in the U.S. and would appeal only to a very limited customer demographic.Similarly, public WLAN services are in a nascent phase, and there are already several constituencies, including municipal governments, happily taking advantage of them. More mobility and choice seem better than dogmatism. All industry players should be wary of technology religion, lest they, in the closing words of Shakespeare’s Othello, “love not wisely, but too well.”