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Intel to put mobile solution on display at CTIA

Posted: 19 Mar 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:reference guide? wireless? client device? information technology system? CTIA Wireless 2002 Conference?

Intel Corp. has created a reference guide that shows small and large businesses how to securely and efficiently integrate wireless client devices into their corporate information technology systems.

Intel is scheduled to demonstrate and discuss the reference guide, the result of a collaboration with IBM and AT&T, during an opening keynote slot Monday (March 18) at the CTIA Wireless 2002 Conference in Orlando, Florida.

During the demonstration, Intel chairman Andrew S. Grove is expected to report that the telecom industry has reached a strategic "inflection point" in its transition from voice to voice-plus-data networks and services. Grove is scheduled to speak by means of a live wireless video transmission from a personal computer in California.

In Florida, Ron Smith, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Wireless Communications and Computing Group (WCCG), is to show what the reference design can do. Smith is to use a Compaq iPAQ PDA to demo what's called the Intel Personal Internet Client Architecture (Intel PCA) Wireless Enterprise Reference Solution.

The reference guide has the hardware and software information a business needs to link wireless client devices operating on the advanced General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) wireless network with enterprise server applications. Though GPRS will be used, the solution is air-interface-agnostic, Intel said, and can run, for example, over an IEEE 802.11b network.

"While some are targeting the consumer with mobility applications, we firmly believe that the mobile worker will be the driver behind the wireless market," said Tony Sica, vice president and group marketing director of Intel's WCCG. Intel's theory is that the enterprise can see a rapid return on its wireless infrastructure investment by turning the mobile worker's "gap time" in the field into productive time. While many users are already remotely accessing basic information?e-mail and personal information managers, for example?on the corporate network, "They're still not able to get at the core, secure database information needed to make them truly productive. However, enabling this can't be done by just one company," he said.

The Intel guide and reference platform is based on the results of an internal pilot program conducted by Intel's IT department and business groups in several countries. In the pilot, Intel employees wirelessly accessed enterprise database information, such as sales, manufacturing and inventory control data, through their PDAs.

Flexible security

Ramesh Dontha, product marketing manager for WCCG, said IBM's client and server software gives IT managers the flexibility to develop their own security solutions while still providing the base level of security required, using virtual private networks and protocols such as wireless-transport-layer security, used for the Wireless Application Protocol. Dontha was directly involved in both putting together the reference guide and conducting the internal pilot. The pilot was run on PocketPC devices based on 206MHz SA1110 processors with 16MB/32MB of Flash memory as well as on notebook PCs. But, Sica said, the technology is also suited to the high processing power of the company's Xscale processor.

"For each application [such as e-mail and database access] a layer of software will have to be provided on the client," said Dontha. For seamless connectivity, all the portal software will be fully tested for interoperability against IBM back-end application servers. Intel plans to leverage its development network to provide the required code, said Sica.

Though not geared to any specific software platform, the pilot program used IBM's WebSphere Everyplace Embedded Software and AT&T Wireless' GPRS networks. IBM had to modify its Everyplace software to work on the iPAQ's processor, said Doug Heintzman, manager of standards and strategy for IBM's Pervasive Computing division. Still, he said, that doesn't make the platform Intel PCA-specific. "We can port this to any software or processor, and have done so already with elements for Symbian and the PowerPC. All it takes are modifications to accommodate the real-time software and the Java engine." The next step to enable true mobility, Heintzman said, is to develop speech capabilities, as well as device management, synchronization and standard interfaces.

During the Monday demonstration, Grove's "inflection-point" comments are designed to underscore what he sees as a dramatic change and resulting turbulence from those who build the equipment through to those who deliver the services.

Grove's theory is based on his view of the telecommunications industry's shift in business model from one based on voice revenues to one based on value-added services. Moreover, he sees the industry moving toward an open, standards-based business model using modular Internet components.

The new model, according to Grove, will enable applications and services to be delivered faster and more cost-effectively, which he sees as being vital for the industry as it moves to data.

Despite Intel's view that the mobile industry depends on the mobile professional to succeed, other developments this past week suggest less-lofty drivers for the mobile data market. Taking a page from the early days of the VCR and the Internet, Virgin Mobile announced that it was putting its money on porn.

England's fifth-largest mobile phone operator said it's discussing a deal with Playboy to offer its customers access to adult entertainment. According to a news report by the U.K.'s Financial Times, the possible deal is a sign that the mobile phone operators see pornography, already one of the most economically successful areas of e-commerce, as a potential and much-needed revenue earner.

If Virgin seals the deal, said the report, it would enable users to download color pictures from the Internet and forward them to other mobile users. But it could also include anything from strip poker games to?when the technology evolves?short video clips.

While Intel's Sica agreed that "it'll take many different approaches to really kick-start wireless-enabled mobility," he said "the bandwidth isn't there" to support such applications at this time.

? Patrick Mannion

EE Times

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