Wireless sanity

There were few major announcements at this week's debut of the Internet World Wireless show in New York. Perhaps this means some badly needed sanity is being restored to the wireless market.

Perhaps we can expect less pontificating by analysts and vendors about the mythical "killer app" for wireless. And maybe we'll even have less trumpeting of "revolutionary products."

If so, it should become easier for enterprise network and application managers to focus on the critical issue - the software and hardware infrastructure upon which some clever business and software folks will build the applications that can exploit the immediacy that wireless connections offer.

One example of such an application is the public-key infrastructure (PKI) gateway introduced this week by 724 Solutions Inc., a Toronto, Ontario mobile banking software company.

We'll skip the arcane details of PKI software: it's basically a way to authenticate and encrypt transactions over a network by creating what's called a digital signature. It's only just now being introduced for wireless nets.

PKI means that once your customer or business partner hits the "enter" button to complete a million-dollar order, you'll both know that 1) the other person is who he or she claims to be and 2) the transaction can't be repudiated.

724 Solutions' product is actually, as so much of the significant stuff is in wireless, a collaboration. It's based on the recently introduced Trustpoint PKI Portal software, from Certicom Corp. And it relies on the PKI-enabled browser that Neomar built for Palm Inc. OS devices. 724 Solutions then does some tailoring for its financial services customers.

Similarly, ValiCert Inc. earlier this month unveiled the ValiCert m-Commerce Express, which adapts the vendor's existing PKI-based applications to wireless nets and incorporates the Wireless Access Protocol gateway from CMG PLC's CMG Wireless Data Solutions. The gateway lets handhelds with a WAP browser execute authenticated transactions. Both companies will sell the Express software.

Covigo Inc., which offers a Java-based wireless application server and development tools, is embedding m-Commerce Express into this platform.

In a statement, 724 Solutions CEO John Sims, said he expects the gateway will "open the door to development of new wireless services," such as submitting commercial bids, awarding contracts, invoicing and paying for big-ticket purchases.

None of these, by themselves, are killer applications. But they address the everyday stuff that businesses actually do - and want to do wirelessly.

724 Solutions: www.724solutions.com;

Certicom: www.certicom.com;

CMG Wireless: www.cmgwireless.com;

Covigo: www.covigo.com;

ValiCert: www.valicert.com

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