Network giant Cisco Systems is putting its Aironet wireless LANs into lounges at 19 airports across Europe. The services are aimed at business travellers with wireless cards in their laptops and/or PDAs. The announcement is not of a single deal, but more a progress report. It includes various deals with different telcos and airports, made under the banner of Cisco Mobile Office, a marketing campaign (what Cisco calls a "demand generation programme") for wireless LANs. The airport deals are at different stages, from a fully fledged paid-for service run by wireless provider Mobynet at Turkey's Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, where the WLAN was included when the airport was designed in 1999, to others which are still free trials. Copenhagen Airport, which manages its own wireless service, is more limited, converting a three base-station network from a free service to a commercial one in February. "We are seeing a wave of transition from free services to a paid environment," said Martin Cook from Cisco's solutions consulting and business development division. "Some services are paid for with a scratch card (similar to a mobile phone top-up card), some have credit card authorisation, while others are subscription services. In future, we will see hard launches, going directly to paid-for services." The announcement, which follows BT's announcement of its Openzone, underlines the increasing energy being devoted to building wireless LANs. In the US, providers include Voicestream and Wayport are putting WLANs into airport lounges and other public places, while in Europe, Megabeam is getting licences for similar sites. Cisco is bundling Aironet with its long range Ethernet, Building Broadband Service Manager, and virtual private network (VPN) technology, to provide a single source for as much of the equipment as possible.
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