Cisco targets city wireless

Networking giant Cisco Systems Inc. put its own stamp of approval on the burgeoning market for citywide wireless communications when it announced this week a series of infrastructure products aimed at making it easier to deploy metropolitan-sized wireless networks.

The Cisco Metropolitan Mobile Network, based on the company's Aironet Wireless Local-Area Network products and Cisco 3200 series mobile routers, provides a single, integrated network infrastructure for multiple wireless technologies, officials said.

Their aim is to deliver a clear migration path for users to build on legacy networks and expand with future technologies, said Ann Sun, senior manager for Cisco wireless and mobility marketing.

"With the [Cisco solution], users can seamlessly roam across various wireless networks as well as within particular networks," she said.

Sun believes the new product will be particularly useful for cities and municipalities that want to extend their current networks to cover mobile workers.

In-vehicle applications, for example, can use a Cisco 3200 mobile router to maintain a constant wireless IP signal as users pass among various subnets or hotspots created using Aironet 802.11 WiFi access points and bridges.

Other applications Cisco officials are looking at include such things as wireless extensions to fixed infrastructure, as with video surveillance systems, and for remote management of traffic signals.

Those kinds of applications will be increasingly important to cities and municipalities examining the broadest range of possible uses for metropolitan wireless networks as part of the business justification for installing them, Sun said.

While still in the early stages of marketing its new solution, Cisco says it has already signed up several government customers, including London's Westminster City Council in the United Kingdom, which is using the technology to deploy a video-surveillance system; and Cook County, Ill., which is deploying the system initially for first responder in-vehicle applications and later to provide broadband access for other mobile and fixed-site applications.

Individually, the Cisco products cost $900 for the 3200 router and interface card, $1299 for the Aironet 1300 outdoor access point and wireless bridge, and $4999 for the Aironet 1400 outdoor metropolitan bridge.

The company is also working with integrators such as IBM Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. to develop custom solutions.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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