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FRIDAY - AUGUST 4, 2006 - ISSUE NO. 223

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brad dye
Wireless Messaging Newsletter
  • VoIP
  • Wi-Fi
  • Paging
  • Wi-MAX
  • Telemetry
  • Location Services
  • Wireless Messaging
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A Global Wireless Messaging Association

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On October 19, 2005, in Helsinki, Finland, a new paging association was formed. Successor to WMA (Wireless Messaging Association UK) and EMMA (European Mobile Messaging Association), the new association retained EMMA as its name. Derek Banner, former chairman of WMA was elected chairman of the new EMMA.

You can contact Mr. Banner by calling him on +44 1895 473 551 or e-mailing him at:  left arrow CLICK HERE

Please read the new EMMA whitepaper Radiopaging for Alerting First Responders and Informing the Public during Emergencies.



Advertiser Index

AAPC—American Association of Paging Carriers Minilec Service, Inc.
Advanced RF Communications  Nighthawk Systems, Inc.
Advantra—INILEX   Northeast Paging
Aquis Communications, Inc.   NotePage Inc.
Ayrewave Corporation
CONTEL Costa Rica  ParkMagic
CVC Paging   Preferred Wireless
Daniels Electronics   Prism Paging
Daviscomms USA   Product Support Services
EMMA—European Mobile Messaging Association   Ron Mercer
Global Fax Network Services   Texas Association of Paging Services
GTES LLC  TH Communications
Hark Systems   UCOM Paging
Heartland Communications   Unication USA
HMCE, Inc.  USA Mobility, Systems Application Division
InfoRad, Inc.  WiPath Communications
Ira Wiesenfeld   Zetron Inc.


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Zetron Simulcast System

High-speed simulcast Paging with protocols such as POCSAG and FLEX™ requires microsecond accuracy to synchronize the transmission of digital Paging signals.

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Zetron's Simulcast System uses GPS timing information to ensure that the broadcasted transmissions between the nodes of the Simulcast System and associated transmitters are synchronized to very tight tolerances.

This system is ideal for public or private Paging system operators that use multiple transmitters and wish to create new Paging systems or to build out existing systems into new regions. For more information about Zetron's High Speed Simulcast Paging System, the Model 600 and Model 620, go to: left arrow CLICK HERE

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Tel: 425-820-6363
Fax: 425-820-7031
E-mail:   left arrow CLICK HERE
Zetron Inc.


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Internet Phone Quality Drops Significantly And Steadily Over Last 18 Months

Monday, July 24, 2006

— One Out Of Five Calls Found To Be Unacceptable According To Data From Brix Networks' Voice Quality Testing Portal

— Also Now Available As Google Desktop Gadget

CHELMSFORD, Mass. — Nearly 20 percent of Internet telephone test calls experienced unacceptable call quality over the last 18 months, according to data collected from, Brix Networks' free, voice quality testing portal that enables consumers to independently measure the quality of their broadband Internet phone connections.

Brix Networks also announced today that is now available as a Google Gadget -- an interactive, mini-application users can download ( to their personalized Google Desktops that displays a "weather map" indicating the Internet's current ability to support real-time services, such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and IP television (IPTV).

With almost one million Internet phone tests conducted by users from around the world since its launch in March 2004, is a unique and invaluable resource for consumers of cable and digital subscriber line (DSL) services. arms users with accurate, objective performance information that empowers them to make informed decisions about their own Internet phone quality.

From late 2004 through mid-2006, the test results generated by Test showed a consistent decrease in overall voice quality as calculated via a Mean Opinion Score (MOS), a common objective measure of conversational voice quality that rates calls on a scale from one (bad) to five (excellent). Test calls with a MOS of 3.6 or better are typically regarded as having satisfactory quality. The number of test calls throughout this time that achieved a MOS of 3.6 or higher, also known as Acceptable Call Quality (ACQ), was only 81 percent.


Linear regression trend line on monthly Acceptable Call Quality (ACQ) as reported by from December 2004-May 2006 that shows a significant decrease in ACQ (any test calls with a Mean Opinion Score under 3.6) throughout this period.

"Over the last few years, the global market for consumer VoIP services has grown to nearly 20 million subscribers. These results from indicate that during this same period Internet call quality has declined," said Kaynam Hedayat, vice president, engineering, and chief technology officer at Brix. "For long-term sustainability, providers of Internet phone services will need to concentrate on the root causes of call quality degradation, including late packet discards, lost packets, and round-trip voice latency." is powered by the Brix System, Brix Networks' seamlessly integrated hardware and software solutions that proactively test and monitor IP service and application quality. Visitors to download a small applet that initiates a test phone call using the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) call-signaling protocol. Appliance-based Brix Verifiers answer these test calls and measure the quality of the "conversation." Verifiers are currently installed at test locations in Boston, Helsinki, London, Montreal, San Jose, Sydney, and Vienna.

Network operators use the Brix System to guarantee the successful launch and ongoing, profitable operation of their various IP services, including VoIP, IPTV, and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). A commercial version of is available that enables operators to proactively assess the quality of a potential subscriber's Internet connection to support VoIP services and to provide ongoing, self-help customer support.

About Brix Networks

Brix Networks is the leading provider of converged service assurance solutions that allow the world's largest service providers and enterprises to offer reliable and high-quality experiences in voice, video, data, and mobile services to their customers, partners, and employees. The company brings a proven heritage of IP expertise unique to the service assurance marketplace, and collaborates closely with its customers and partners to assure the delivery of any IP-based service, over any network, to any endpoint. For more information, visit, or call 978-367-5600/1-888-BRIXNET.

# # #

John H. Ricciardone
Brix Networks

Source: Brix Networks

Protecting against vulnerabilities in wireless drivers

Wireless Security By Mike Kershaw,, 07/24/06

One of the talks announced for the Black Hat conference this summer in Las Vegas is about 802.11 driver vulnerabilities, which can affect users even if they aren't connected to a network.

All modern operating systems, such as Linux, BSD, Windows, and Mac OSX, have a similar fundamental security measure: the separation of kernel and user code. The kernel is the core of the operating system and controls processes, disk access, and hardware access. While programs are typically prevented from accessing the memory of other programs or directly controlling the hardware, the kernel has no such restrictions.

Vulnerabilities at the kernel layer are especially dangerous. Operating in the kernel, malicious code has complete control of the system. So-called "root kits" can alter the kernel to hide files from anti-virus scanners, hide running programs from the user, and capture input from the mouse or keyboard. Root kits have become an increasing risk with malicious software.

Device drivers function at the kernel level. Network device drivers are especially at risk as they handle remote data, which cannot be trusted. Any bugs in the code that handle remote packets can lead to system crashes, or worse, code execution at the kernel layer.

Remote driver bugs have typically been rare and can be quickly fixed once the vendor is notified. Kernel-layer bugs are very difficult to defend against without a vendor update. Antiviral software typically operates outside of the kernel, and firewall software can prevent connections on TCP/IP ports but not vulnerabilities at the wireless layer. 802.11 management packets contain no IP traffic data and are not passed to the wireless layer, but a flaw in the driver's handling of the management contents could lead to an exploitable vulnerability.

Many methods can be used to find vulnerabilities. The method du jour is "fuzzing." A fuzzer is a smart brute-force algorithm that provides enough structure to generate a packet that appears valid, but the contents of the fields are filled with iteratively randomized data. Fuzzing is not limited to wireless protocols; it has been a valuable technique for testing software responses to different types of invalid data for in-house developers and security researchers.

Fortunately, the risks of bugs in wireless drivers can be minimized. The window of exposure is extremely limited. Unlike someone attacking an Internet server, the attacker must be within radio range of the victim. Always run the latest version of the drivers for your wireless card, as they may contain fixes for vulnerabilities such as these.

The ultimate protection? Turn off your wireless card when you aren't using the network.

Mike Kershaw is author of Kismet, a popular open-source project for 802.11 wireless network detection, sniffing, and intrusion detection as well as an editorial board member of the WVE.

Source: NetworkWorld (thanks to Associate Editor, Barry Kanne)

Quality of VoIP calls dropping; will Net neutrality make the problem worse?

7/25/2006 4:00:37 PM, by Nate Anderson

Has VoIP quality been getting worse? Yes. That's the conclusion arrived at by Brix Networks, and it has real implications for the current debate over network neutrality.

Brix runs a web site called As the name suggests, it lets people test the quality of their VoIP connection by placing a simulated call from the user's computer to one of several verifiers located around the world. Brix then lets customers know how well their connection works (they also offer a Google gadget that can display a "weather map" of current worldwide VoIP conditions). The company has archived all the data generated by these tests (nearly a million of them in the last two years) and yesterday released a report based on those numbers.

The report made several intriguing claims. First up is the assertion that 19 percent of VoIP calls had "unacceptable call quality" during the last 18 months, certainly bad news for anyone thinking about ditching their landline in favor of VoIP. The company arrives at this number by measuring the "mean opinion score" (MOS) of all those test calls on its network. These scores are computer-generated; they don't rely on humans to make judgments about what level of call quality is acceptable. The Brix study found that more calls than ever are scoring below 3.6, which is considered the threshold for acceptable connections. A quick look at the linear regression featured in their press release shows a scary downward drop in VoIP quality.

Wild claims or accurate results?

Recent data from Keynote, an Internet metrics firm, suggests that the situation is not so dire. Though Keynote agrees that far too many VoIP calls fall below acceptable quality standards, the company's data suggests that things are getting better. Reliability, in particular, is up across the board. Quality is up among the top three players, too; Verizon, Vonage, and Time Warner all have an MOS greater than 4.0, the standard for "toll quality" calls. Audio delay among all VoIP operators, though showing no improvement since the last Keynote study, did not get worse.

So which is it? We talked with Kaynam Hedayat, the CTO at Brix, and he stands behind his company's report. Hedayat points out that the Keystone report targeted specific ISPs and VoIP providers, which may not give an accurate account of what it's like to make calls over the public Internet, where traffic hops between many networks and often travels overseas. The Brix system used a Java applet to measure the actual connection between users' computers and a Brix hardware appliance located in one of several data centers around the world. That, says Hedayat, makes Brix's numbers real-world accurate.

Proper sampling is one of the first lessons taught in courses on research methodology. Without a good sample, the data you collect will be meaningless. Brix opened up their test to anyone, anywhere, which makes us wonder about the accuracy of the results. After all, wouldn't disgruntled VoIP users be disproportionate users of such a service? Hedayat says no, and points out that most people using the Brix test generally try to pre-qualify for VoIP service, not troubleshoot problems, making it more likely that the results represent a randomized Internet sample.

"I was surprised by these results," says Hedayat, who has been looking at the numbers for almost two years. He began to see a downturn in quality toward the end of 2004, but assumed that the degradation was barely a blip on the way to landline-level quality and reliability. Instead, the downward trend continued. The Brix data looked at the Internet as a whole; it's certainly possible that VoIP calls that stay within the US, for instance, might be of higher quality. But Hedayat argues that international calling is the biggest market for VoIP, so the most accurate metric of its performance has to involve international connections.

Methodology aside, it's also worth pointing out that Brix is in the business of selling "service assurance solutions" for IP networks. Basically, they can help fix your traffic problems, including VoIP quality issues. While this in no way implies that they fudged their results or did anything even remotely suspect, it's a good policy to be wary of study results that bolster a firm's own business. Hedayat points out that many other firms are capable of providing the same software and services, though, and he says that the results turned out to be quite different from what he expected at the outset of the project.

It's the network, stupid

Both Keynote and Brix agree that the biggest variable affecting call quality is the network. On a private network, VoIP is much like a Camry on I-94; it doesn't take up a lot of space. It's not difficult to get excellent VoIP quality on a private network, but the problem comes when the traffic is passed between different networks, many of which do not (or cannot) prioritize VoIP traffic.

This brings us, of course, to the current debate raging in Congress and the telecommunications industry over network neutrality. Proponents of such neutrality are often uneasy with such QoS guarantees, because they can easily become ways of extracting money from the richest players while squeezing out startups who can't afford the fees. Hedayat points out that there are really two different issues at work here: one is the need to differentiate and prioritize services, the other concerns who will pay for that priority. Brix takes no stand on how costs should be broken up or whether the government should intervene, but they do believe that traffic needs to be prioritized if video and VoIP services are to take off.

Some analysts agree.

"Prioritizing traffic is going to have to happen," said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at the Yankee Group. "The vision for many service providers is to offer video, Internet access and voice on one pipe. And the addition of video is going to be a huge hit on the network. I think consumers will be less tolerant with jittery TV than they have been with voice, so service providers better get the prioritization mechanisms in place today before they try to sell the public on Internet-based video."

This doesn't mean that Web companies necessarily pay for the privilege of having their traffic prioritized, nor should they. As Cisco CEO John Chambers argued in yesterday's USA Today, he "wouldn't expect [Internet] companies to pay for high-speed access—consumers will." Customers plunk down their monthly fee with the expectation that they will be able to access any site or service on the Internet. When Hedayat and Kerravala talk of prioritizing traffic, they mean prioritizing all traffic of a certain kind. VoIP calls would be given a higher priority than Web browsing, for instance.

This sort of prioritization should present no problems to network neutrality advocates, but it's not likely to happen in the immediate future. However the debate over network funding is resolved, network operators still need to get together and honor QoS guarantees for certain kinds of traffic if VoIP ever hopes to achieve the "five nines" reliability of the traditional phone system. So far, the market has failed to deliver this sort of interoperability. QoS requests aren't widely respected between different networks, but that could change if enough interested parties start losing customers over poor quality VoIP calls.

Source: ars technica (thanks to Associate Editor, Barry Kanne)


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Nighthawk Systems Inc. manufactures low cost and reliable remote control products for fire house alerting, volunteer alerting, activation of warning signs and sirens, and a number of applications for public safety.  The Company manufactures the EA1 and the FAS-8 which have been designed specifically for these applications.  Both products are paging based and will work with any public or private paging network.  They are available in all VHF, UHF, and 900 MHz paging frequencies.  The products can serve as the primary notification system or an excellent, low-cost backup to existing systems.

Public Emergency Notification & Volunteer Alerting

The EA1 is the solution for remotely activating public warning signage.  Examples include tornado sirens, flash flood warnings, fire danger, Amber Alert, icy roads, etc.  The EA1 can also send text messages to scrolling signs.  This can occur in conjunction with the activation of audible alarms and visual strobes.  This is ideal for public notification in buildings, schools, hotels, factories, etc. The group call feature allows for any number of signs or flashing lights to be activated at the same time over a wide geographic area.  In addition, the EA1 Emergency Alert is the perfect solution for low cost yet highly effective alerting of volunteer fire fighters in their home.  When activated the EA1 will emit an audible alarm and activate the power outlet on the units faceplate.  A common setup is to simply place the EA1 on a table and plug a lamp into the faceplate.  When paged from dispatch or any touch tone phone the EA1 will awaken the fire fighter to a lit room.  As an option the EA1 can be ordered with a serial cable, allowing for attachment of a serial printer.  When paged the alphanumeric message will be printed out at the same time the alarm sounds and the outlet is activated.  The EA1 is an ideal complement to alphanumeric belt pagers common to volunteers.

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Firehouse Automation

The FAS-8 is designed for activating one or more relays in a firehouse and if desired, printing the alphanumeric message to a serial printer.  For this application the FAS-8 is set to activate upon receiving the proper paging cap code sent from 911 dispatch.  Up to eight different devices can be activated all with individual time functions.  The most common devices to turn on include the PA amplifier, audible wake up alarm, and house lights.  The most common device turned off is the stove.  The FAS-8 can accept up to 8 different cap codes and have separate relay and time functions per cap code.  This allows for different alerting to be accomplished at the same physical location depending upon which cap code is sent.  This can be very helpful when fire crews and medical crews are housed in the same building.



Put the innovative technology of Nighthawk to work for you. For more information on any of our products or services, please contact us.

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10715 Gulfdale, Suite 200
San Antonio, TX 78216

Phone: 877-764-4484
Fax: 210-341-2011

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Comments Sought On Plan To Operate Public Safety Paging System On 900 MHz Narrowband PCS Spectrum

BloostonLaw Private Users Update 5
Vol. 6, No. 10
August 2006

The FCC has asked for comments on a waiver request filed by the City of Richmond, Virginia (Richmond), which seeks to operate a regional public safety two-way paging system on 900 MHz band Narrowband PCS (NPCS) Channel 16 (frequencies 930.65-930.70 MHz and 901.8125-901.8250 MHz).

Richmond asserts that it needs a secure, reliable, interoperable and cost-effective method of alerting and calling police, fire, EMS and other government agencies charged with maintaining public safety in the region. Richmond states that it considered other solutions, but the devices it plans to use operate only in the 900 MHz band, and commercial paging systems cannot meet its needs for immediate, secure communications with adequate backup reliability. Richmond proposes initial deployment of twenty-three base stations sites to cover the City of Richmond and Henrico, Chesterfield, and Hanover Counties, but requests authorization for the entire Richmond-Petersburg, Virginia Economic Area (EA 015), which covers thirty eight counties, in order to provide for growth of the regional system to incorporate adjacent jurisdictions.

Interested parties may file comments on or before August 28, 2006. Reply comments are due on or before September 12, 2006.

BloostonLaw contacts: Hal Mordkofsky, John Prendergast, and Richard Rubino.

Source: Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy and Prendergast, LLP

For additional information, contact Hal Mordkofsky at (202) 828-5520 or

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$500.00 FLAT RATE

TAPS—Texas Association of Paging Services is looking for partners on 152.480 MHz. Our association currently uses Echostar, formerly Spacecom, for distribution of our data and a large percentage of our members use the satellite to key their TXs. We have a CommOneSystems Gateway at the uplink in Chicago with a back-up running 24/7. Our paging coverage area on 152.480 MHz currently encompasses Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Kansas. The TAPS paging coverage is available to members of our Network on 152.480 MHz for $.005 a transmitter (per capcode per month), broken down by state or regions of states and members receive a credit towards their bill for each transmitter which they provide to our coverage. Members are able to use the satellite for their own use If you are on 152.480 MHz or just need a satellite for keying your own TXs on your frequency we have the solution for you.

TAPS will provide the gateways in Chicago, with Internet backbone and bandwidth on our satellite channel for $ 500.00 (for your system) a month.

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Two-Way Paging

From: Jeff Lehman <>
Date: August 1, 2006 11:38:46 PM CDT
Subject: two-way paging

Mr. Dye,

I have been reading your newsletter for a few years, but have only recently subscribed to the newsletter. I serve on a search and rescue team and we depend upon text messaging for callouts and team coordination. I have a couple of questions that I am having difficulty getting answers for from my pager carrier (USA Mobility, formerly Metrocall, formerly WebLink Wireless).

I am a big fan of two-way pagers and use one daily. Are there plans to build-out coverage areas? We routinely operate in wilderness areas, and in these areas I often find that I have better coverage on a cell phone than my pager. Do you know of any plans to continue to improve coverage.?

Also, recently I am finding that where I normally have coverage my pager goes into "storing" mode. About a year ago I switched to the Percomm e80 so I don't know if it is an issue with my pager or the network. Have you heard of any issues with the e80?


Thanks for all the information you have provided. I have used many of the articles in your newsletter to convince folks to not abandon paging.

Jeff Lehman
San Bernardino County Sheriff's Cave Rescue Team

Editor's Note: I had an extensive discussion with a senior manager at USA Mobility (today) about these issues. I have been assured that as "network rationalization" takes place the frequency in a given area called the "go to frequency" or in other words the one chosen to stay on the air, ALWAYS gets more transmitters added to it, IMPROVING the coverage in that area. We may have had a mistaken impression that as duplicate coverage areas were eliminated because of merging so many paging companies together, overall coverage was getting reduced. I am planning to publish interviews and follow-up articles on this topic in the coming months. USA Mobility says that their main nationwide channel has more transmitters on it than any other company in the history of paging.

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More On Emergency Alerts

Subject: RCR article on National Alerting
Date: August 1, 2006 2:34:24 PM CDT

There was an article in RCR this last week (finally got to read it) about Congress Mandating Alerting to Carriers.

Down in the article is an excerpt from the RCA (Rural Cellular Association) that said that it's members request that they not be mandated to send out alerts, due to the financial impact on them to re-distribute new handsets that would work using existing SMS technology and maybe a new "Multicast system".

I find that very interesting, and this helps put Paging in a better position, if Cellular is not completely together with doing the National Alerting, it puts a crimp in the overall push for the NEW cellular paging technology, at least in the short run.

With the possibility of the fact that the Government is looking to MANDATE that Paging deliver National Alerts, it might be a good thing that Paging comes together beforehand, figures out how to do this on the least amount of cost to the Carrier, and then presents this plan to the Government ahead of time !

Since we obviously do not have to change our networks to do Group Pages for National Alerting, all we need to figure out is what format that should be used to send the Alerts ? And how we need to configure or connect up our Paging terminals or switches to receive the Government EAS data ??

Once this is established, the Paging Industry is ready to take on America !!!

Wayne Markis
Interstate Wireless, inc.

P.S. My thought was that we need two separate sets of two Group capcodes, one set for POCSAG, and one set for FLEX formats. One capcode is a Priority (Next out or Breakthrough) Group Page (That alerts the pager unit) and is used for Emergency Alerting notifications. The second Group Capcode, High Priority, but does not alert the pager unit (Similar to a mail drop), this would be used for general information to the original Alert.

Editor's Note: Wayne made some good points here. The right way to assign a "group call" or an "all call" or a "common code" capcode to a POCSAG pager is to put it in the same frame as the pager's individual capcode. That way you won't mess up the customer's battery life. With just 8 identical messages—one in each of the 8 POCSAG frames—Ø through 7— you can send the same message to everyone on a POCSAG system and still maintain good battery life. If a POCSAG pager has to wake up from sleep and listen for a capcode in other than the frame containing its individual capcode, then battery life goes down the drain, and the inherent battery-saving feature of POCSAG is lost.

Pager Programming Reference: left arrow This is homework for you young guys.


That's all for this week. You can help the newsletter by recommending it to a friend or colleague. There is no charge for subscription and there are no membership restrictions.

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With best regards,
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Brad Dye
Wireless Messaging Consultant

P.O. Box 266
Fairfield, IL 62837 USA

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Skype: braddye  WIRELESS
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Telephone/Fax: +1-618-842-3892 
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