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Cisco and Sprint set new pattern of collaboration in IP

Enterprise WAN product to target next-gen mobile market

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Cisco and Sprint have co-developed an enterprise WAN product that indicates the way the IP giant is likely to attack the next generation mobile market.

The two companies have launched an interface card, for use with Cisco's Integrated Services Routers, a cornerstone of its convergence strategy, and with Sprint's EV-DO network.

Products like the Cisco 3G High Speed WAN Interface Card (HWIC) form part of the growing platform that is the company's IP Next Generation Network architecture. With this, it looks set to infiltrate the carrier market, where it has usually played on the metro area and enterprise sidelines gradually, rather than taking on the wireless infrastructure giants head-to-head - something many observers have expected it to do, in order to leverage its strong experience and patents pool in IP.

Initially, 3G products like the EV-DO and UMTS versions of the ISR are targeted at conventional Cisco markets such as large and medium enterprises, and could well incorporate Wi-MAX options in future too.

As cellular technologies move to all-IP, Cisco will expect to claim a larger role in the carriers' wireless or converged networks investment, though primarily in the core rather than venturing into base stations. But it also has its chance to move to the center of operators' businesses through applying emerging wireless technologies to other areas of its activities - to end user devices such as network cards and the Linksys consumer gateways.

It could also move sideways into base stations via the increasingly interesting femtocell route, which could be a natural way for Cisco to permeate the access portion of the carrier network, as well as to extend the Linksys range to in-home cellular functionality.

For Sprint, the Cisco product will be offered as part of its increasingly important managed services and customer equipment support offerings for large companies, uniting the two in a card/service combination that could increase the cellco's control of an account. "Given our wireless data expertise and IP leadership, Sprint is uniquely positioned to offer this integration of wireless and wireline, which offers the promise of reduced costs and increased efficiency," said Tony Krueck, vice president of product management and development for the carrier.

Customers will have a choice of service plans including unlimited and usage-based plans, with a $99 per month flat rate offering likely to be the highlight tariff. Sprint says a "vast majority" of its network, reaching 208 million people in 11,600 cities, will be upgraded to EV-DO Rev A by year's end. The Cisco Interface Card is also backward compatible with the slower Rev 0 and 1xRTT networks where Rev A is unavailable.

Copyright © 2007, Wireless Watch

Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here.

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