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Tools roll for Wi-Fi consumer network planning

Posted: 16 Oct 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Cognio? Devicescape? Spectrum Expert? Agent? Easy Access?

Now that Wi-Fi network planning for heterogenous consumer nets has taken center stage, two companies originally founded with Wi-Fi hardware in mind are expanding their software base for more-complex planning and configuration tasks.

Cognio Inc. was born in 2000 to embed complex spectral management directly into chips for Wi-Fi access points. As the market for Wi-Fi MACs and PHY devices became defined by low prices and standard features, Cognio shifted to providing software for troubleshooting, predeployment analysis, installation verification and network management. William Flanagan, who came to Cognio a year ago as marketing VP after a stint at soft-switch vendor Sentito Inc., said Cognio is trying to develop software meaningful enough to turn a spectrum analyzer into "spectrum analytics."

"Any test vendor can show a waveform and provide first-level analysis on RF characteristics of your Wi-Fi network," Flanagan said. "We try to provide more detailed information and possible solutions."

Improved diagnostics
Cognio will make its third major release of Spectrum Expert this quarter, integrating the tools with such Microsoft Office applications as Excel. With improved diagnostics, the software in SE 3.0 can discover Wi-Fi access points on its own. While vendors like AirMagnet, Wild Packets and Fluke OEM parts of the Cognio tool suite, Flanagan said his company will sell directly into a variety of Wi-Fi accountsin some cases, competitively against OEM partners.

Devicescape Software Inc., formerly Instant802 Networks Inc., has leveraged its talent in designing Wi-Fi clients and access points into a focus on software to service-enable clients, particularly unique Wi-Fi clients like music players and gaming stations. In May, Devicescape introduced Easy Access client technology and announced an integration deal with protocol specialist LVL7 Inc.

In August, Devicescape offered one of the first implementations of the Wi-Fi Alliance's Protected Setup specification. Glenn Flinchbaugh, VP of marketing, said that by making Devicescape Agent technology-compliant with the new Protected Setup spec, end-users can quickly add devices to a network in pushbutton fashion and still feel confident that the clients on the network are secure.

Devicescape's agent has been updated to support a range of Wi-Fi chipsets, including those from Atheros, Broadcom and Marvell. Previous support for Windows CE and Linux has been expanded to include support for Windows Mobile 5.0 and Windows PC environments.

- Loring Wirbel
EE Times

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