NEC, Motorola Team on Wireless Roaming

Duo to tackle data transmissions, VOIP.

NEC America Inc. and Motorola Inc. are joining forces on an effort to provide wireless roaming between corporate and cellular networks, the two companies announced last week.

The companies plan to offer roaming for data transmissions and for voice over IP, officials said.

NEC, of Irving, Texas, will provide the WLAN (wireless LAN) infrastructure, the PBX, the gateway and the related services.

Motorolas WLAN Seamless Mobility Business, based in Arlington Heights, Ill., will provide a dual-mode handset that operates on WANs and on 802.11 standard-based WLANs.

The two companies are collaborating on a mobility manager that interacts between the access points and the PBX, officials said.

The packaged solution is due to corporate customers by the middle of next year.

In January, Motorola announced a similar partnership with Avaya Inc., of Basking Ridge, N.J., and Proxim Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif. That solution, which focuses more on public WLAN hot spots, is due to customers in the beginning of next year.

Motorola officials said that the two efforts are separate but that there are industry efforts afoot in organizations such as the IEEE to standardize WLAN/WAN roaming.

"We see this very much as an end-to-end solution, but at the same time its important that we define some standards so were not selling a technology cul-de-sac to a customer," said Bo Pyskir, senior director of Motorolas WLAN Seamless Mobility Business. "The core handset will be the same. The difference will be some of the applications and the way they are delivered."

Officials at NEC declined to give details about specific application plans but said their partnership with Motorola is more focused on vertical businesses than the Avaya-Proxim one.

"You look at where NEC has market leadership, and thats in health care, education and the high end of the hospitality arena," said Paul Weismantel, director of enterprise solutions at NEC.

Meanwhile, Intermec Technologies Corp. last week announced that customers can roam between WANs and WLANs on its 700 Series of handheld computers through a partnership with IBM.

IBMs WebSphere Everyplace Connection Manager software now supports Intermecs dual-radio computers to provide seamless roaming between LANs and WANs, said officials at Intermec, in Everett, Wash.

The software monitors the data traffic and routes it to the cheapest available network, and it also keeps the data secure without requiring the user to reauthenticate between networks, officials said.