Addressing billing and security issues, Lucent Technologies Inc. and IBM are working on enterprise services that combine WLAN and 3G network access.
Lucent, of Murray Hill, N.J., is teaming with several companies, including Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sierra Wireless Inc., to develop a series of services to carriers called Secure Mobile Data Solutions for Enterprises.
The first solution, available now for notebook computers with a Sierra Wireless modem, enables VPN (virtual private network) connections over third-generation CDMA2000 1X networks. Support for handheld devices is coming, officials said.
Lucent plans to bring both enterprise wireless LANs and public "hot spot" WLANs into the mix by the end of the year.
By next quarter, the company will join with CDMA, or Code Division Multiple Access, operators to test a service that lets customers roam seamlessly between their corporate WLAN and a carriers WAN. The operator would not charge for the WLAN access but would manage the handoff and charge accordingly.
"Essentially, we would position the mobile operator as the handler," said Maria Palamara, an engineer at Lucents Mobility Solutions Division, in Whippany, N.J.
For customers that use public WLANs, Lucent is working with carriers on ways to provide a single bill, even if customers use multiple hot spots from different providers, officials said.
Meanwhile, IBM has updated its Everyplace Wireless Gateway to let devices roam between WLANs and WANs. "The software detects that youre leaving a [WLAN] and moving to a wide-area environment," said Letina Connelly, director of pervasive enterprise strategy at IBM, in Somers, N.Y. "The end user has no idea of whats going on."
Everyplace Wireless Gateway supports security protocols beyond the often-criticized WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) standard for WLANs. Customers can choose DES (Data Encryption Standard), Triple DES, RC5 and Advanced Encryption Standard for their gateway.
"We encrypt right over WEP, so if anyone gets through that, it doesnt do them much good," said Chris Pendleton, a private consultant and architect for the Toronto Police Departments eCops project. In the project, police use the gateway to file reports remotely from laptop computers in squad cars. When they are parked near a WLAN, the gateway uses 802.11b, or Wi-Fi, technology, but when out of Wi-Fi range, the gateway will switch to the WAN. Everyplace Wireless Gateway will support cellular and packet-switched WANs, officials said.
For now, the Toronto PD is using its own private network, but the plan is to add commercial services from carriers such as Rogers Communications Inc. and Telus Corp., both of which have discussed commercial plans with IBM, officials said. "Were starting to look at supplementing this with the public 2.5G networks," Pendleton said. "Its just a matter of [whether] the carriers deliver the quality of service at a cost thats reasonable."
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