Cisco Bringing Hybrid Wireless Networking Products to MWC

Cisco's new software and hardware makes it easier for service providers to manage and monetize their hybrid networks, which include cellular and WiFi.

Cisco Systems officials at the Mobile World Congress event this week will be demonstrating new intelligent software and small cell hardware designed to make it easier for carriers to expand the connections of their wireless networks.

At the show, which kicks off Feb. 25 in Barcelona, Spain, Cisco officials will show off their new Quantum software portfolio, the result of more than $1.5 billion in acquisitions of smaller mobile technology companies over the past few years, including Starent Networks in 2009, and Cariden Technologies and BroadHop, both in 2012.

The Quantum portfolio—announced Feb. 19 along with the new small cell hardware offerings—is designed to enable wireless service providers to better analyze and monetize the rapidly growing amount of what Cisco officials are calling “data in motion” in their networks, which include 3G, 4G and WiFi, according to Kit Beall, area vice president for service provider mobility for Cisco.

“This is really about taking advantage of … the data on the mobile Internet,” Beall told eWEEK.

Data in motion is the real-time or near real-time data that is generated by both mobile and fixed Internet connections between people, their devices and various processes, according to Cisco. And those connections are helping feed a continuing boom in the mobile Internet traffic that wireless carriers must be able to analyze and better monetize, Shailesh Shukla, vice president and general manager of software for service provider mobility for Cisco, told eWEEK.

Mobile traffic on the Internet is expected to growth 13-fold between 2012 and 2017, according to numbers from Cisco’s recently released Visual Networking Index. By 2017, there will be more than 10 billion mobile-ready devices and connections—from 8.6 billion personal mobile devices and 1.7 billion machine-to-machine (M2M) connections.

Through the Quantum software, wireless service providers will be able to gain a greater understanding of the data running across their networks, leading to better network programmability and improved delivery of new network services, according to Shukla. With the intelligent software, service providers will be able to abstract and analyze the data, create policies around that data and bring services that customers want, and to do so across their hybrid networks—combining 3G, 4G, WiFi and small cell, Shukla said.

The Quantum Network Abstraction Suite within the Quantum portfolio gives service providers a real-time network abstraction layer that lets them collect data from anywhere in the network, aggregate it and orchestrate it. The Quantum Policy Suite is a platform that lets service providers better scale, manage, monetize and personalize any server on any type of networking, while the Quantum Analytics Suite that makes it easier for them to better make policy decisions based on both real-time and historical data. It includes a dashboard for better visualization of the data and programmable interfaces that allow for system alerts tied to policy.

The WAN Orchestration Suite is a set of tools to enable providers to more easily manage network traffic and capacity, improve efficiency and reduce operational costs, particularly in Internet Protocol/Multiprotocol Label Switching (IP/MPLS) networks.

Cisco’s efforts around small cells are designed to create more intelligent access into the networks and to help carriers such as Verizon Wireless and AT&T expand their coverage, according to officials. Included in Cisco’s offerings is the 3G Small Cell Module, which can be attached to Cisco’s Aironet WiFi access points to create an integrated 3G and WiFi wireless environment. Cisco also will sell a standalone module that will offer the same capabilities, Cisco’s Beall said.

In addition, Cisco is rolling out the ASR 901S router, which offers the ability to deploy large numbers of small cells outdoors on such mounts as light poles that will bring together the wireless signals—3G, 4G and WiFi—from mobile devices with fiber and copper backhaul.

The router is another example of growth in demand for hybrid networks that leverage both cellular and WiFi capabilities, Beall said.

“We’re really seeing the rise of heterogeneous networks,” he said.