Today’s mobile workers often complain about office wireless connections while cellular carriers are grappling with a rapidly rising flood of traffic. This article shows readers how some technology vendors promise to address both of these problems at once.

Companies like Texas-based InnerWireless already offer “distributed antenna systems” to handle wireless connections inside hotels, hospitals and government offices. The antenna system market is particularly promising, notes the author, because of the flood of users of devices like Apple Inc.’s iPhone who are pulling tremendous amounts of data from the Internet. AT&T, the cellular carrier providing service for the iPhone, has seen wireless data growth on its network rise nearly 5,000 percent between 2006 and 2009. It and other cellular carriers are trying desperately to offload some of this traffic by encouraging the use of WiFi, the alternative wireless technology built into many laptops and many smart phones. They are also looking to technologies that take over wireless coverage inside buildings as a way to move traffic from their overburdened cell sites.

Silicon Valley startup SpiderCloud Wireless recently introduced technology that takes over delivering either cellular or WiFi signals to smart phones or laptops of office workers worldwide. The performance improvement is so dramatic that management there expects some customers to dispense with desk phones entirely and rely solely on cell phones. While other in-building wireless networks take months to install and are more suited to large companies, SpiderCloud’s technology seems inexpensive enough for even small companies to employ.

The article talks about SpiderCloud’s new system of access points installed in office ceilings that communicate with laptops and smart phones and its specialized servers that manage how the devices communicate with each other and the Internet. One industry analyst notes that other in-building systems route a call between two people in the same building outside to the wired portion of the carrier’s network which is already burdened with heavy traffic. SpiderCloud connects those people directly, inside the building, and offloads external traffic directly to the Internet, better reducing carrier data load. Its strategy is to sell the technology to cellular carriers and let them offer it in a service bundle to businesses.

Source: Don Clark, The Wall Street Journal (New York); Oct 30, 2009

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