Cellular networks gain Wi-Fi integration smarts

Cisco, Ruckus announce solutions to ease mobile capacity crunch

Vendors at the annual GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week are laying out new ways for mobile operators to squeeze more capacity and revenue out of their cellular networks.

It's a good thing, too: New smartphone and tablet announcements from handset makers Samsung and LG, along with news that Nokia will join forces with Microsoft in support of Windows Phone 7, reflect the mounting challenge for mobile operators to support the growing traffic volumes that these and other smart client devices will generate.

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Cisco and Ruckus Wireless, for example, announced advances intended to help mobile operators supplement their cellular coverage with pockets of Wi-Fi in ways that are more transparent to users than they have been previously.

For its part, Cisco announced a mobile service provider framework, dubbed MOVE. One component of the framework includes products that extend 802.11n out of doors in a carrier-class form factor. Cisco's Aironet 1550 Series 802.11n APs include a DOCSIS 3.0 interface option for cable operators that might be interested in a quad play of Internet, CATV, telephone and wireless services. The APs are scheduled to ship in April.

The Cisco framework, centered on the uptick in mobile video, also adapts mobile traffic based on device and codec type and avoids some backhauling through the core network to speed transmissions.

For example, it includes a Content Adaptation Engine on Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS) for the data center.

The CAE performs transcoding and shaping based on device type and conditions and adjusts rates based on connection speed, says Andy Capener, Cisco director of marketing for service provider mobility. In addition, a Mobile Video Gateway applies policy against each transaction and provides TCP optimization and video pacing, he says.

Meanwhile, Ruckus introduced a gateway for integrating carrier-class Wi-Fi into existing mobile network infrastructures. The Ruckus Wireless Services Gateway interfaces with a carrier's core authentication and policy systems, according to company documents.

Both Ruckus and Cisco said their solutions make transitions from cellular-to-Wi-Fi-to-cellular smoother for end users and extend security from one type of network to another.

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