• United States

Secure GPRS access en route from Equant

May 07, 20032 mins
Cellular NetworksNetwork Security

* Mobile users gain access options from multinational carrier

In the coming weeks, international carrier Equant is going to add 2.5G General Packet Radio Service access to its portfolio of remote-access options for its IP VPN and frame relay service offerings.

The forthcoming Equant GPRS Access service will enable existing multinational Equant users who are mobile to click on another icon on the Equant Access Companion browser-based interface to gain direct, secure access into their corporate intranets, circumventing the public Internet to ensure privacy. Mobile network operator partners of Equant in France, the U.K., and Russia (to start) have secured private-line connections to the Equant IP and frame relay networks so that mobile user traffic is sent directly there. In the U.S., the Equant GPRS Access service will be available in the fourth quarter at the earliest, notes Gopi Gopinath, senior vice president of data and IP products at Equant.

Such connections are made possible through a product category generically known as the Gateway GPRS Service Node (GGSN) – offered by numerous vendors – that interfaces the radio network with the terrestrial network. In this case, Equant uses a product from CoSine called the IP Services Node (IPSN) to connect wireless networks to its WAN services via private lines.

Note, though, you still have to negotiate and purchase your GPRS services from multiple carriers worldwide yourself. Many of them have roaming agreements, which should cut down on the number of vendors you do business with. But Equant doesn’t intend to get involved in the procurement process at all, leaving that up to you. This is a departure from the primary advantage of international suppliers, which usually serve as a single point of contact.

All the service will really do is provide a GPRS connectivity icon on your user interface and charge users on per-megabyte basis for access, above and beyond their GPRS airtime charges (the actual price-per-megabyte is still under discussion). There is no “package deal” that includes the airtime charges, and there are no service-level agreements from Equant for the wireless portion of the access connection.

If your users are already running IPSec VPN software clients on their mobile devices, you might consider simply using that client, in combination with the public Internet, for secure remote access for mobile users. The choice depends on your perception of whether one option is indeed “more secure” than the other.