SBC Offers Wi-Fi Packages to Schools, Health Care

By Eric Griffith

June 18, 2003

The telco/ISP covering several states is offering itself as the single point of contact for veriticals that want to install wireless VoIP systems and networks.

Last week, San Antonio, Texas-based SBC Communications announced plans to become a one-stop shop for the needs of the education and medical industries looking to install wireless LAN networks, coupled with wireless voice over IP (VoIP).

"We noticed, from both the medical and the educational perspective, the capabilities in the field and find the experts that can do both in a way that meets customer needs -- those skills are becoming few and far between," says Pat Pothier, director of Customer Marketing at SBC.

SBC will in effect become the system integrator -- using equipment from Cisco Systems and Spectralink -- and will do all site surveys and installations for customers.

"After that, we can do the managed servers, with 24/7 monitoring" at an SBC network operations center (NOC), says Pothier. "It's soup to nuts capability. We're not inventing anything, just bringing it to customers."

Earlier this month, SBC announced a four-year partnership with Cisco to sell advanced telephony services. Cisco also has such deals with telcos like Bell South, AT&T, and Sprint.

This WLAN service will fall under SBC's PremierSERV Solutions initative. The education offering, PremierSERV WLAN Solution for School Safety and Increased Efficiency, is meant to address the needs of grades Kindergarten through 12, meeting all security needs for communications in emergencies or normal school days. Teachers and administrators can be equipped with Wi-Fi enabled phones for communicating via voice or text messaging with each other, or to the outside to parents or for emergencies.

The PremierSERV WLAN Solution for Enhanced Patient Care and Efficiency covers the healthcare industry, even in areas with specialized equipment such as operating rooms, emergency rooms, or telemetry areas. Areas that forbid cellular phone activity could use Wi-Fi.

"If it doesn't work in the places they want it to work, then we've missed it," says Pothier.

SBC predominantly serves 13 states in its footprint, including Connecticut, California, Nevada, Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. But the company says the PremierSERV Wi-Fi solutions are not limited -- if they can serve customers in any other state, they'll do it.



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