Cisco Systems on Tuesday, Oct. 30, plans to introduce Cisco Mobile Networks, an offering that will allow a Cisco router, along with its connected IP devices, to roam across networks without losing connection to the Internet.
A passenger on a train, for example, could use a laptop to connect through a Cisco router on the train to a wireless local area network in the station in order to access the Internet or a corporate intranet. As the train moves out of the station and out of the wireless LAN coverage area, the onboard router would hand off the user session to a wide area mobile data network without the user noticing. In addition, as the train moves, the session could also be passed between different WANs owned by different operators.
"It primarily enables you to take a whole subnet and move from one location to another, while maintaining an IP connection," said Vinay Anand, Ciscos product manager of Mobile IP. Typically, as a wireless data user moves from one network to the next, the IP address gets lost and then reset. That forces an interruption in service because the application must restart.
Ciscos Mobile Networks is an upgrade to its Mobile IP service, currently used by Nextel Communications across its network. Mobile IP essentially assigns a home router to a user: No matter where that user accesses the Internet, the customers device will find and communicate with that home router for authentication, security and profile purposes.
Mobile Networks improves on the concept because it allows the router to move, while maintaining connections for IP devices communicating with it. In addition, Mobile Networks doesnt require users to load special software on their devices.
Anand envisions different vertical applications for ambulances, the Coast Guard or even cruise ships. Those organizations might buy the routers directly from Cisco and install them in their ambulances or other moving vehicles. The routers would connect to the internal corporate network via whichever over-the-air network the user wants.
In the example of the train passenger, each mobile network operator would have to deploy Cisco Mobile Networks gear, and there would have to be arrangements between the operators for billing purposes. End users would also need multiple radio devices in order to access the different networks.