Wireless Convergence Hits Austria

By Eric Griffith

February 13, 2004

Start-up Azaire is hoping its new overseas partnerships will begin a move toward true union of cellular WANs and wireless LANs.

It has been a busy week for Santa Clara, Calif.-based Azaire Networks. The company was formed only last summer but is already launching partnerships to help bring wireless LAN functionality to other types of network providers.

Earlier this week it announced a deal with Kapsch CarrierCom. The Vienna, Austria system integrator provides equipment for network operators. Azaire will be Kapsch's preferred provider of WLAN components. Today, the two together landed their first customer, mobilkom Austria. The plan is to provide mobilkom subscribers with seamless service whether they're on GPRS, UMTS, or Wi-Fi. mobilkom has already started service at at McDonald's restaurants throughout the country.

"We're building gateways and products so mobile and fixed operators can offer Wi-Fi as an extension of the business -- a true extension of their network," says Naveen Dhar, vice president of sales and marketing at Azaire Networks. The expectation is one long held -- that carriers will appreciate being able to shunt some of their users over to Wi-Fi on the fly so they can free up the cellular bandwidth that might be choked.

Azaire expects to see the current use of laptops as the primary method of Wi-Fi access shift to more mobile devices, specifically handset phones.

The Azaire platform is called Converged Network, which Dhar calls an "end-to-end solution for carriers. The only part we don't do is the access point." The Converged Network will integrate with the existing authentication and billing systems of carrier customers. The platform consists of a control node at the network core through which all transactions travel, a client connection manager, and at the edge of the network is the Wireless Services Gateway which routes traffic where it needs to go.

"Operators are getting into this more and more -- as long as they can leverage [Wi-Fi] into existing platforms," says Dhar.

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