Risk
1/25/2010
07:32 PM
Chris Murphy
Chris Murphy
Commentary
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
Twitter
Google+
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
Flash Poll
Current Issue
Cartoon
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-0103
Published: 2014-07-29
WebAccess in Zarafa before 7.1.10 and WebApp before 1.6 stores credentials in cleartext, which allows local Apache users to obtain sensitive information by reading the PHP session files.

CVE-2014-0475
Published: 2014-07-29
Multiple directory traversal vulnerabilities in GNU C Library (aka glibc or libc6) before 2.20 allow context-dependent attackers to bypass ForceCommand restrictions and possibly have other unspecified impact via a .. (dot dot) in a (1) LC_*, (2) LANG, or other locale environment variable.

CVE-2014-0889
Published: 2014-07-29
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in IBM Atlas Suite (aka Atlas Policy Suite), as used in Atlas eDiscovery Process Management through 6.0.3, Disposal and Governance Management for IT through 6.0.3, and Global Retention Policy and Schedule Management through 6.0.3, allow remote atta...

CVE-2014-2226
Published: 2014-07-29
Ubiquiti UniFi Controller before 3.2.1 logs the administrative password hash in syslog messages, which allows man-in-the-middle attackers to obtains sensitive information via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2014-3020
Published: 2014-07-29
install.sh in the Embedded WebSphere Application Server (eWAS) 7.0 before FP33 in IBM Tivoli Integrated Portal (TIP) 2.1 and 2.2 sets world-writable permissions for the installRoot directory tree, which allows local users to gain privileges via a Trojan horse program.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio