Mobile Broadband: Because You Can Only Go So Far with Physical Plant

May 12, 2010 - 0 Comments

When it comes to “the four any’s” (anything, anytime, anywhere, any device) it’s the latter two (“anywhere” and “any device”) that are tricky. Especially if the majority of your network is wired.

The train corridor along the East coast of the United States is a good example: Up until very recently, commuters who wanted a mobile broadband signal did so by purchasing a special dongle from their cellular carrier, and paying a monthly service fee.

That all changed on April 15, when Cablevision, Comcast and Time Warner Cable announced free Wi-Fi access to existing broadband subscribers when they’re in the New York metropolitan area. The idea: Turn on the laptop or Wi-Fi-equipped screen. Select from three SSIDs, one for each operator, which appear as hotspot connect options. Pick your service provider, login – free mobile broadband.

In the background, here’s what happens to make all that cross-MSO roaming work: Outdoor cable modems plug into the MSOs’ fiber optic facilities. Power for the modem comes from the cable network; control mechanisms include subscriber authentication, provisioning, security, and management.

Another consideration in extended-reach Wi-Fi installations: How to deal with unwanted interference within the unlicensed spectral boundaries of the Wi-Fi signal. This interference can come from such mundane items as microwave ovens, garage door openers, and cordless phones, and can have an impact on the quality of the signal users receive on their Wi-Fi networks.

Our anti-dote for spectral interference  within unlicensed spectrum came out just a week ago: Our Cisco CleanAir technology, which sits inside our Aironet 3500 series access points (APs) to analyze what’s going on spectrally, and providing intelligent decisions and policies for faster troubleshooting and automatic RF interference avoidance.

And this week at the Cable Show, we’re demonstrating our latest solution to help operators with the physical handoffs between 3G wireless networks, WiMAX networks and packet-based, wireless networks (like Wi-Fi).

Specifically, it’s a way to maintain a data or voice session by cleanly handing-off traffic moving over licensed 3G or 4G spectrum, to indoor or outdoor Wi-Fi networks. It’s powered by our ASR 5000 technology, which acts as a home agent in that it “sees” both networks, and maintains the connection while instantiating the handoffs between them.

It’d be easier to show you, so please do come by the Executive Suites at the Cable Show.

In an effort to keep conversations fresh, Cisco Blogs closes comments after 60 days. Please visit the Cisco Blogs hub page for the latest content.