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Cisco and Juniper armed for wireless showdown

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The industry's two largest network vendors will be dueling on wireless with competing wares on display at the Mobile World Congress in Spain next week.

Juniper Networks will demonstrate some fruits of its Project Falcon mobile push announced in late 2009, while Cisco will burn its brand on a 4G LTE gateway obtained from its $2.9bn purchase of Starent Networks made around that same time.

The ever-increasing use of wireless devices to access the web is expected make the mobile market kit a major cash cow, resulting in a furious jostle for products that offer rich 4G multimedia services.

Project Falcon, an answer to Cisco's Starent deal, is an initiative to develop products for the mobile packet core and subscriber management of 4G networks. Juniper plans its MX 3D "universal edge" family of routers and line cards to carry any type of service.

Juniper will demonstrate three new capabilities at the Barcelona, Spain, event - the first tangible results from its Falconry.

The first offering, Juniper Traffic Direct, will let the MX 3D Universal Edge router family offload mobile data traffic to the Internet or landline to help providers reduce network congestion and minimize the impact of newfangled mobile toys. Juniper said the solution is expected to be available in the second quarter of 2010.

Next is Juniper Media Flow, a content delivery network feature for managing adapted bit streaming for video and rich media across mobile and fixed networks. The technology, also expected for Q2, arrives from a partnership with Ankeena Networks that Juniper announced back in October. Media Flow will first debut in the form of a separate appliance, but later become a feature for Juniper's router chassis.

Juniper's final product is Mobile Core Evolution, a mobile packet core system that supports 3G and 4G services on the same network. Available as beta in the fourth quarter, Mobile Core Evolution will be based on MX 3D and Junos software, and hopes to attract a sizable crowd of third-party devs and carriers building their own applications for product.

Cisco, meanwhile, will show off the first product to come from its Starent buy, the ASR 5000. Or as it was formerly known, the Starent ST40 mobile core chassis.

The company's big push for the rebranded box is its existing ability to handle 2G, 3G and 4G traffic. But it also will now incorporate the Cisco Unified Reporting System, which gives administrators the ability to collect real-time information about what the network and subscribers are up to. Cisco also intends to integrate more elements into the platform over time. ®

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