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Palm signs Wi-Fi security, access, VoIP deals

The better to pitch Tungsten C PDAs at corporates

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Palm yesterday signed a handful of alliances it hopes will make its Wi-Fi equipped Tungsten C handheld more attractive to corporate IT departments.

The deals will provide Palm's flagship PDA with voice over IP (VoIP) technology, plus support for Cisco's LEAP network authentication protocol and other security-oriented systems.

VoIP support comes from VLI, which is porting its Gphone app to the Tungsten C, which runs Palm OS 5.2, the only Palm PDA to currently do so. The software allows users to call IP handsets and VoIP-enabled PCs across corporate networks and the Internet. Gphone uses the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). Fortunately, Cisco's IP phones support the protocol, since Cisco sells the bulk of the world's VoIP handsets.

Speaking of Cisco, Palm also said that Meetinghouse is bringing its Aegis WLAN security solution to the Tungsten C. Aegis provides Cisco LEAP (Lightweight Extensible Authentication Protocol) authentication, which requires both ends of a connection to mutually verify each other's right to that connection. LEAP extends the Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) standard Wi-Fi security system by using dynamic encryption keys, and is a key part of Cisco's corporate-oriented WLAN offerings.

Meetinghouse will also offer a VPN client based on the IPSec system to allow remote Tungstens to connect securely to office networks, typically via - Palm hopes - a Wi-Fi hotspot.

To that end, Palm said US hotspot provider Wayport will offer a 30-day free trial of its access service. More usefully, WiFinder, a free hotspot location service, has set up a dedicated Tungsten C channel to help PDA owners find access points around the globe. Last, and certainly least, Linksys is offering Tungsten C buyers a total of $60 off 802.11 access point and PC card hardware.

Linksys' vouchers will be included with new Tungsten Cs from today, as is Wayport's 30-day trial voucher. VLI's Gphone for Palm will ship next month, while Aegis WLAN and the IPSec VPN client are expected to become available "later this summer". ®

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