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Lucent said it has made a deal with Ulticom to offer a SIM-based Wi-Fi authentication system for mobile operators: There are a slew of companies offering SIM-based WLAN authentication, ranging from the big SIM providers like Gemplus to some smaller startups. If the idea is to take off, it’ll start out in Europe where customers are familiar with the SIM concept. In the U.S. where most people have never heard of SIM, it could prove more complicated.
Using SIM for WLAN authentication is great for mobile operators because they can use infrastructure that is already in place. It’s not clear how this Lucent solution would work for the end user. In some cases, customers send a text message and assuming their SIM is authenticated, they receive a pin which allows them to sign onto a hotspot. I’ve also heard talk of using SIM readers on laptops, which could either be built into the laptop or attached via PCMCIA or USB. That obviously adds an extra hardware requirement which represents an extra hurdle to ask users to leap over in order to use Wi-Fi.
Lucent made this announcement at the 3GSM conference just starting today in Cannes, France. It’s the largest European cellular trade show of the year. I’ll expect to hear of discussions about Wi-Fi and WiMax, if only surrounding how those technologies might coexist next to the emerging cellular broadband standards, like HSDPA.
Telebria, a mesh-network equipment developer, introduced a weatherproof access point. The tri-band AP offers outdoor coverage: Telebria has built a network covering schools and libraries in Kent in the U.K. but has also deployed more than 60 public networks in England.
Mesh and voice over Wi-Fi seem to be the hot topics for the upcoming year. Mesh is expected to be a particularly hot topic in Europe.