Meru Launches Alliance for VoWi-Fi

By Eric Griffith

September 28, 2005

The Wi-Fi infrastructure equipment maker's new program includes interoperability testing and co-marketing efforts for partners in the "VoIP ecosystem."

If you're a vendor that works with Meru Networks, you're more than just a partner. You're part of an alliance.

The company, which makes wireless networking infrastructure equipment that particularly targets voice customers, is launching VoIP Unplugged, which it calls "a global alliance of leading VoIP and wireless players with the sole purpose of creating best practices for wireless VoIP deployment."

It's not open to just anyone, though, as Joel Vincent, director of product marketing at Meru, clarifies: "What we've done is brought our partners together and said, 'Now that we've worked with you all individually... we can all work together,'" Vincent says.

At least, it's not open to everyone yet. Eventually, Vincent says VoIP Unplugged could be "open to anyone who fits into some portion of the wireless VoIP ecosystem." He calls it a "confluence of common interest" for the companies involved.

While wireless VoIP (VoWi-Fi) is the common factor for the group, Meru breaks things down into partner categories of integrators, infrastructure, management, security, voice and service providers. Initial members of the VoIP Unplugged Alliance are Roving Planet, WildPackets, FUNK, Juniper, Avaya, Shoretel, Zultys, Fujitsu, Oki, Sylantro, Vocera, Hitachi Cable, and Firetide [Spectralink, originally planning to be an initial member, hasn't finished all testing yet and will likely join at a later date according to Meru's PR].

"A typical wireless voice setup can span a whole spectrum of players... that make up the solution," says Vincent. "It's important to establish best practices. We'll have a VoIPUnplugged.com site where you can see solutions... configuration guides... interface guides. We'll do more than work together, we'll tell you how to make it work."

The company has already posted some white papers on the site including "Best Practices for Wireless VoIP Infrastructure," as well as guides on deploying Vocera's badge communications system and Firetide's Hotport Mesh routers with Meru's infrastructure equipment.

Testing will come in several steps, starting with partners applying to Meru for VoIP Unplugged, being assigned to a partner category, then moving either to an optional pre-trial in the partner's lab or directly into full testing in Meru's lab, which already includes most of the equipment from existing partners. Once items are tested, they'll move to creating configuration guides for customers to ensure interoperability is made easier. Those guides are then issued through sales channels to customers. The partner and Meru will also look into co-marketing options at that time.

"Things are coming that need across-the-board testing, like E911, Fixed/Mobile Convergence," says Vincent. "The general consensus with partners as we formalize such testing is, 'That's a great idea.'"



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