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Cisco Systems moves from wired to wireless

“Empowering the Internet Generation" has been the bedrock maxim of Cisco Systems, and the networking giant evidently thinks that the Internet Generation is going wireless. Despite being a self-confessed “technological agnostic”, Cisco is adding a new dimension to its goal to connect people, computing devices and computer networks.

Paul Zimmerman“Empowering the Internet Generation" has been the bedrock maxim of Cisco Systems, and the networking giant evidently thinks that the Internet Generation is going wireless. Despite being a self-confessed “technological agnostic”, Cisco is adding a new dimension to its goal to connect people, computing devices and computer networks. Vice President of Wireless Service Provider Paul Zimmerman leads the charge into Asia with a number of new Cisco innovations and services.

What's the most important factor for Cisco System now?
Cisco believes that the important focus should be on the end-customers (both consumer and enterprise) and their requirements for applications and services. We also believe that IP-based infrastructures are key to enabling these applications and services.

With GPRS and 3G, mobile operators are recognizing the need to optimize their networks for data and Internet traffic, and Cisco is positioned to work hand-in-hand with mobile operators to address their growing requirements.

The 3G reference architecture promoted by Cisco and partners, and supported through the Mobile Wireless Internet Forum (MWIF) and other standards bodies, is based on open interfaces and achieves harmonization across access technologies.

By promoting a common IP core, distributed peer-to-peer IP-based architecture for scalability, and IP standard interfaces to billing and customer care, mobile operators will benefit from new operating efficiencies and the ability to offer new mobile voice and data services.

Which are the technologies that Cisco will support?
Cisco is by nature technologically agnostic but there is one thing that we do believe in and that is the Internet and its underlying technology, IP. Despite the current gloom in the US economy and the impact it is having in some parts of Asia, we do still believe that the Internet will continue to grow and expand. The Internet is a great technology enabler, if you can get access to it.

However if you look at Internet adoption in Asia, the penetration rates are still very low in many areas, and the main reason for this is the fact that the PC is the main form of accessing the Internet. Mobile phone penetration, however, is growing very strongly and according to IDC, Asia Pacific, excluding Japan, accounts for 25 per cent of the worldwide mobile phone market.

So particularly in Asia, the mobile phone looks like the most promising way to increase Internet adoption rapidly. Which is why Cisco is working so closely with mobile operators and mobile equipment providers to ensure that technologically at least, GPRS and 3G works smoothly.

Mobile IP is also rapidly gaining momentum with the proliferation of handheld devices and personal digital assistants (PDAs) alongside traditional cellular phones. In Europe and Japan, business professionals and consumers alike are already using cellular phones to access certain Web services, read e-mail, and play games.

Mobile IP networking will extend such services with far richer functionality and higher transmission rates. Wireless technology also allows countries such as China and India with more limited wired infrastructures to catch up, or indeed, leapfrog other countries. This has profound implications and benefits for economic development and indigenous technology innovation and growth within Asia-Pacific.

Tell us more about Cisco's infrastruture business.
To date, Cisco has been successful securing over 80% of the IP core infrastructure being put in place for mobile data in all of our major markets worldwide. We have the features and functionality in our solutions today to support the introduction of mobile data services and we are working very closely with mobile service providers to develop the solutions which they will require in the future.

While our solutions work equally well in serving both the consumer and enterprise customer segments, many service providers see the enterprise market as the most demanding for quality, performance and functionality.

In addition, many industry analysts believe that the enterprise segment will be the primary early market for mobile Internet services and applications, as the costs of these services can be easily justified against tangible benefits in business productivity and efficiency. Thus, the enterprise market will be an important segment to adopt and roll-out mobile data services to internal users and customers.

What are some of the services or products that Cisco is implementing?
Cisco is working with many of the world’s leading Mobile Service Providers in a number of technology and solution areas:

  • Deployment of flexible, scalable, resilient multiservice packet backbone and IP Core Network infrastructures for GPRS, 3G UMTS (Universal Mobile and Telecommunications System) AND 3G CDMA 2000.

  • Advanced network migration solutions for Data Communications Network (DCN), transit, and Messaging Service (SMS) requirements including mobile voice convergence solutions (voice over packet).

  • Enterprise VPNs - Integrated, secure enterprise for data, voice, and video.

  • Mobile ISP/ASP - Scalable ISP, hosting, and Web infrastructures.

  • Intelligent content delivery network (CDN) solutions.

  • Unified Operation and Support Subsystem/Base Station Subsystem (OSS/BSS) - with partners.

  • Wireless office solutions - including Cisco Mobile Office Network Solution (MNET), Cisco’s voice-over-IP (VoIP)-based enterprise in-building GSM solution.

  • Providing broadband wireless access solutions for business services - Such as 802.11b wireless LAN “hot-spot” coverage. This is part of the Cisco Internet Mobile Office initiative that we announced in Singapore in March.

  • Optical transport networks for long-haul and metro bandwidth delivery.
  • In terms of infrastructure, operating costs and mobile take-up, how does the Asia Pacific region compare with the rest of the world?
    Mobile phone take-up in Asia Pacific is one of the fastest growing in the world and the success of NTT Docomo's iMode service shows how other countries in the region may be able to be successful with similar services.

    More about Top 20 Telecoms' Outlook.