WIRELESS: Tools simplify planning for consumer nets - Embedded.com

WIRELESS: Tools simplify planning for consumer nets

Colorado Springs, Colo. — 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 Germantown, Md., in 2000, to embed complex spectral management directly into chips for Wi-Fi access points. As the market for Wi-Fi MACs and physical-layer 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 vice president of marketing 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.”

Cognio will make its third major release of Spectrum Expert this fall, 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 accounts, in some cases competitively against OEM partners.

Devicescape Software Inc., formerly Instant802 Networks Inc., has leveraged its talent 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.

This month, Devicescape is offering one of the first implementations of the Wi-Fi Alliance's Protected Setup specification. Glenn Flinchbaugh, vice president 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 the clients on the network are secure.

Devicescape's agent has been updated to support a range of Wi-Fi chip sets, 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.

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