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Newbury Networks Offers Alternative to Cisco Tracking Appliance

The company's location appliance works with existing Wi-Fi access points and supports PanGo's asset-locating software, as well its own.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Dec 13, 2006Last month, Massachusetts company Newbury Networks debuted an asset-location appliance that can be deployed for locating any Wi-Fi-enabled device read by access points from any of the major wireless LAN infrastructure providers: 3Com, Aruba, Cisco Systems, Nortel, Symbol and Trapeze.

This week, PanGo Networks, a Framingham, Mass., technology firm specializing in asset-location software, announced that its PanOS Location Management Platform can run on Newbury's aptly named Location Appliance. This means companies can now manage assets through their existing wireless networks by combining the Newbury appliance and PanGo's PanOS Location Management Platform.

Newbury Networks' Location Appliance

Newbury Networks president and CEO Michael Maggio says his firm's location appliance can calculate the position of any Wi-Fi-enabled device, such as a laptop, though to be tracked, the device must first be turned on and transmitting a Wi-Fi signal. The appliance can also calculate the position of any RFID tag that transmits its identity over the 2.45 GHz band following the IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi protocol. Newbury Networks sells Wi-Fi RFID tags for tracking assets or personnel that any standard Wi-Fi access point can read, but the company says its location appliance can work with Wi-Fi tags from any other provider as long as they are set to chirp, or beacon, a signal at regular intervals (as opposed to being on a dormant setting and requiring a wake-up signal before transmitting).

In addition to supporting PanGo's location-tracking software application, the location appliance supports the company's own location software, the Newbury Presence platform. The company explains that supporting third-party software such as PanGo's is part of its strategy to expose its Wi-Fi location appliance to a large potential customer base, including companies deploying Wi-Fi-based asset-location systems in the greatest numbers, such as health-care, financial services and manufacturing firms.

In May of last year, PanGo announced a partnership with Cisco on an asset-tracking system pairing PanGo's PanOS Location Management Platform with Cisco's then-new 2700 Series Wireless Location Appliance (see Cisco, PanGo Unveil Tracking System). In tandem with PanGo's Wi-Fi-based asset tags—which can be set to either beacon or send movement or low-battery alerts to an infrastructure of Wi-Fi access points—the solution enables firms to locate and track everything from wheelchairs and other mobile assets to Wi-Fi devices such as operating laptops. Unlike Newbury's location appliance, however, Cisco's appliance must be used with Cisco access points.

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