Roaming From WLAN to WAN

A handful of companies are developing products that will allow users to roam from wireless LANs to cellular networks.

As WLANs gain greater acceptance in both corporate environments and public spaces, a handful of companies are busy developing products that will allow users to roam from those wireless LANs to cellular networks.

Vendors including ipUnplugged AB, Padcom Inc., PCTel Inc., Intec Telecom Systems plc. and Intellinet Technologies Inc. next week will unveil technologies designed to make WLANs complement, rather than compete with, high-speed cellular networks.

The companies will present their respective products at the CTIA Wireless trade show in New Orleans.

IpUnplugged will demonstrate technology that allows roaming between CDMA2000 networks and WLANs. The company will also announce a deal with 3Com Corp. subsidiary CommWorks, which will sell ipUnpluggeds Roaming Gateway, Roaming Client and Roaming Server software to carriers along with its network equipment.

IpUnplugged, which previously supported only desktop operating systems running on notebook computers, will also announce support for Microsoft Corp.s Pocket PC. The company plans to offer support for the Symbian Ltd. Symbian OS and PalmSource Inc. Palm OS handheld operating systems, which are due later this year.

Company officials said carriers are expected to deploy roaming services using Roaming Gateway and Roaming Server by years end.

Last month, Motorola Inc., Avaya Inc. and Proxim Inc. announced a joint development agreement on devices that can roam between cell phone networks and WLANs. The trio plans to test the joint solution later this year, with commercial availability expected by the beginning of next year.

In the meantime, roaming-software companies are targeting enterprises and vertical markets.

The Wireless Network Security Center at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, N.J., has been using ipUnplugged products in a project that tracks wireless devices in police cars via Global Positioning System.

"It allows us to seamlessly roam around town," said Jason Evans, network engineer at WiNSeC, which is under a government contract to research and improve wireless security. "If [police officers] run outside of the WLAN, we want them to stay connected via CDMA [Code Division Multiple Access]."

Padcom will announce at the show that it has added General Packet Radio Service and Integrated Digital Enhanced Network, or iDEN, WAN adapters to its suite of roaming software that works not only with 802.11 networks but also with proprietary wireless networks. The company released software for roaming between CDMA 1xRTT networks and WLANs in December.

PCTel will announce a new version of its Segue gateway for wireless carriers that want to offer roaming functions and a controller that can be shared among several networking groups.

Intec Telecom Systems will unveil a service that lets WLAN service providers capture and track customer activity on local and roamed networks and calculate the charges accordingly. Intellinet Technologies will publicly debut Enhanced Application Protocol, or EAP, Server, which lets subscribers use the same card for WAN and WLAN access and get authenticated through the carrier.

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