Risk
1/25/2010
07:32 PM
Chris Murphy
Chris Murphy
Commentary
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Global CIO: UPS Provides Peek Into Future Of Wireless

Watching what UPS is doing with its wireless devices has been a good indicator of where the industry is headed

When UPS first started using wireless handheld devices, back in the early 1990s, there wasn't roaming or flat-rate pricing. Instead, there were 200 cellular operators who each wanted to bill the package-delivery giant by the minute for data transfer, like they were doing for people's phone calls.

UPS used its buying clout--and the threat of building its own network, using radio spectrum--to cut a nationwide roaming deal. And ever since, UPS has been pushing and prodding the wireless industry. Ten years ago it wanted real-time data transfers from vehicles; five years it got Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular links in the same device, and made GPS central to the handheld device.

Knowing where UPS is heading with its wireless ambition has been a good indicator for where wireless capability is headed.

So imagine that instead of having just one wireless carrier, which you curse with each dropped call, that your phone would constantly search for the best connection. An algorithm on your smartphone would assess signal strengths, and balance that with roaming costs, and decide when to switch from one carrier to another. It could make that switch regardless of what technology that cellular provider used. That's one example of where UPS is headed with wireless.

At the center of UPS's wireless innovation is a handheld device called the DIAD, that clipboard-sized gadget that UPS's brown-clad drivers around the world carry to get and send package information. UPS has completed the specs for the fifth version of the DIAD, and like past iterations, this device pushes the state of the art on a few levels.

Hyper-Roaming Across Networks

The new device, made by Honeywell, will be able to flip as needed from CDMA to GPRS networks and back, and from carrier to carrier, using a 5-band HSPA/EV-DO cellular modem.

One advantage for UPS is fewer machine types to manage. In the U.S., some areas have better CDMA coverage, and some have better GPRS coverage. So UPS had to assign the right device to the right route, based on the radio type. That meant asset tracking for 60,000-some U.S. drivers. Jackie Woods, the UPS VP of IT who led the DIAD V project, describes that as "not an insurmountable task, but not a fun one." Now, every U.S. driver will have the same device.

Global CIO
Global CIOs: A Site Just For You
Visit InformationWeek's Global CIO -- our new online community and information resource for CIOs operating in the global economy.
The broader impact, however, is around network reliability and cost. The device will switch over to another network if the signal is lost for a certain amount of time, whether due to poor coverage or an outage. Network switching is a backup, so it doesn't immediately cut over to another carrier. The decision considers connectivity costs, using UPS's customized algorithms that balance key factors. Today, it's hard to imagine consumer devices ever having the same kind of hyper-roaming capabilities, given the carrier-centric state of the wireless world. But it's easy to see some consumers wanting it. The value to a business such as UPS is clear. "It's all about having ubiquitous connections," says Greg Bacinski, a key project manager on the DIAD V effort.

Previous
1 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading Tech Digest, Dec. 19, 2014
Software-defined networking can be a net plus for security. The key: Work with the network team to implement gradually, test as you go, and take the opportunity to overhaul your security strategy.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-1449
Published: 2014-12-25
The Maxthon Cloud Browser application before 4.1.6.2000 for Android allows remote attackers to spoof the address bar via crafted JavaScript code that uses the history API.

CVE-2014-2217
Published: 2014-12-25
Absolute path traversal vulnerability in the RadAsyncUpload control in the RadControls in Telerik UI for ASP.NET AJAX before Q3 2012 SP2 allows remote attackers to write to arbitrary files, and consequently execute arbitrary code, via a full pathname in the UploadID metadata value.

CVE-2014-3971
Published: 2014-12-25
The CmdAuthenticate::_authenticateX509 function in db/commands/authentication_commands.cpp in mongod in MongoDB 2.6.x before 2.6.2 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (daemon crash) by attempting authentication with an invalid X.509 client certificate.

CVE-2014-7193
Published: 2014-12-25
The Crumb plugin before 3.0.0 for Node.js does not properly restrict token access in situations where a hapi route handler has CORS enabled, which allows remote attackers to obtain sensitive information, and potentially obtain the ability to spoof requests to non-CORS routes, via a crafted web site ...

CVE-2014-7300
Published: 2014-12-25
GNOME Shell 3.14.x before 3.14.1, when the Screen Lock feature is used, does not limit the aggregate memory consumption of all active PrtSc requests, which allows physically proximate attackers to execute arbitrary commands on an unattended workstation by making many PrtSc requests and leveraging a ...

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Join us Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time to hear what employers are really looking for in a chief information security officer -- it may not be what you think.