SMC Moves Into Hotspots

By Eric Griffith

June 23, 2004

As the company moved from consumer wireless to the enterprise, so it is going into public access, with a partnership with IP3 Networks to provide the backend.

SMC Networks of Irvine, Calif., has moved steadily over the last year from the consumer side of things into the enterprise with its wireless LAN equipment. Today the company announced a partnership with IP3 Networks, a subscriber management system maker, that puts SMC on the track to handle hotspots as well.

SMC spokesman Tony Stramandinoli says the partnership puts SMC's hardware -- in particular its dual-band 802.11a/g, but also its regular 802.11g enterprise access points -- together with IP3's backend billing, authentication, and audit trail services in its gateway controller to provide a total end-to-end solution for hotspot venues. While SMC has worked with companies like Vernier in the past to provide features like virtual private network (VPN) tunneling, this deal is the first time SMC is providing for hotspots.

"We're going to hotspots because everyone says the market trend is only going up in the next three or four years," says Stramandinoli.

The company is positioning its dual-band AP, the EliteConnect Universal Wireless Access Point (model SMC2555W-AG) as the "anchor" for its hotspot applications. Working with the IP3 Networks' NetAccess solution will eliminate the need for reconfiguring IP settings.

SMC hopes the solution can sell to the hospitality industry along with current products and its Extended Ethernet technology to provide Internet access over existing telephone wires already run to guest rooms.

Stramandinoli hesitated to call the deal with IP3 exclusive, but says at this point SMC has no plans to work with other backend providers. "They're perfect," he says of IP3. The two companies will do joint sales calls as needed, calling in each other as needed with future customers to sell the complete service.

Mike Lee, the CEO and founder of IP3, says working with SMC's equipment required no tinkering, since "SMC does all industry standards, so there's nothing crazy we had to do. We work with them out of the box."

IP3 has recently partnered with other companies. Lee says, "We're doing this with quite a few folks. We're the peanut butter that goes with all the chocolate... we're the gateway piece that's hard for people to figure out." Other IP3 partners include Foundry, Aruba, and Strix Systems. The latter, a maker of mesh products for offices, will also serve the hospitality industry using IP3's technology. In fact, the two companies are giving away a $25,000 service at this week's Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference (HITEC) in Dallas. SMC is also at the show demonstrating its equipment working with IP3's gateway.

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