RealTime IT News

Wi-Fi Service Manager

Bridgewater Systems is demonstrating its Wi-Fi Service Manager product at CTIA in New Orleans this week. The product consists of a manager appliance installed in an ISP's NOC and CPE installed at each customer location. The system manages Wi-Fi services, reports problems, delivers firmware upgrades, and provides other benefits.

The system is designed to lower or eliminate technician trips to customer premises, which cost time and money. If there's a Wi-Fi problem, says Chris Lezine, Bridgewater product manager for managed services, "the service provider will usually know about the problem before the customer."

If there's a problem, the CPE first tries standard fault recovery scripts, and if those fail, it escalates the problem to the NOC, where administrators can look at the problem.

The CPE is designed to benefit a service provider's enterprise customers by allowing visiting clients to use the WLAN without giving them access to the enterprise's internal LAN, which is for use by employees only.

Lezine predicts that the market for managed WLAN services will grow quickly. He notes, "managed LAN services are hugely popular in North America, where they are already a multi billion dollar business, annually. We believe managed WLAN will be equally successful. In fact, since many enterprises lack the IT resources for managing a WLAN, and because WLANs are more complex to monitor (and even the site survey is more complex than for a regular LAN), managed WLAN services could be more popular than managed LAN services."

The product runs on the Sun Solaris operating system to ensure carrier grade reliability. The company provides APIs for integration with billing systems, CRM systems, and any other relevant software a service provider may be running.

The CPE and the manager use SSL to communicate. The CPE is standards compliant, and works with any AP that complies with 802.11 standards. The company is working to support the proprietary 802.11 features of leading AP vendors.

Although pricing has not yet been disclosed, Lezine says that prospective customers will probably want to have at least several hundred APs under management (or plans to be that big) before contacting Bridgewater Systems. A company could have 150 enterprise customers averaging 5 APs each plus one large enterprise customer with 50 APs, for example.

More information about this product will be available after trials are completed in the second quarter of 2003.