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Bonsai Shows Carrier Wi-Fi Solution with Partners

This week at the SuperCOMM 2003 tradeshow in Atlanta, Bonsai Networks of Herndon, Va. announced an architecture for Wi-Fi service delivery for local exchange carriers with digital subscriber line (DSL) offerings. The service is powered in part with partners: computer powerhouse Sun Microsystems and DSL provider Alcatel, both of whom are showing the service in demonstrations at the show.

Bonsai is a software company with a focus on Operational Support System (OSS) solutions with real-time subscriber session management. Tuomo Rutanen, vice president of marketing at Bonsai, describes what the companies are showing as an "end-to-end integrated solutions with a phone booth mounted access point which uses the phone booth's power line to power to operate... there's no access controller, it's connected via DSL back to the manager in the telco network, running on the high-end Sun platform."

The platform centralizes all the functions of subscriber management through the Sun platform. This provides not just access control, but ties back to the Bonsai software for real-time, convergent billing. The application runs on Solaris-based Sun Netra 20 and 1280 systems.

The use of phone booths for access points recalls the announcements of such experiments by Verizon and Bell Canada. Rutanen says those are just the kinds of companies that Bonsai and its partners would like to sell this services architecture too. But it's not limited to phone booths by any means. Other setups need only some imagination, such as having a dedicated edge server with multiple access points going to a single manager on a site like a hotel, airport, or convention center. He calls the architecture "Internet egress agnostic."

Still, he says the integrated phone booth approach, with the exsiting footprint and wiring that's easily upgraded to DSL, is a "pretty compelling way to roll out Wi-Fi."

"The strength of the partnerships is that Alcatel provides a lot of the DSL wireline networks -- probably the biggest in North America -- and that Sun is an expert in high end computing platforms," says Rutanen, "while our focus is on Wi-Fi services, the billing mediation and roaming, with our software. We're converging the three." Alcatel also just finalized a contract to supply DSL equipment for Verizon as it continues to push out its own broadband efforts.