RealTime IT News

A Quicker Mesh-to-Money Setup?

As municipal Wi-Fi deployments continue to gain momentum, Cisco Systems wants to be there for the providers and carriers trying to answer a request for proposal (RFP). Its solution is called ServiceMesh, a bundle of all of Cisco’s outdoor wireless offerings.

“We’ve seen cities ask a provider to answer an RFP with some kind of equipment provider [as partner],” says Joel Vincent, senior manager for outdoor wireless marketing at Cisco. “To address that, ServiceMesh is an end-to-end architecture for the provider to bring outdoor service over mesh to a city.”

The bundle will include, as needed, a new Cisco mesh access point, the Aironet 1505, as well as the previously shipping 1510 dual-radio mesh AP announced last year. Both are controlled by Cisco’s Wireless Control System (WCS) software. They’re not yet including customer premises equipment (CPE) to bring a signal indoors, but it's on the road map. For now, it’s up to carriers to decide on the CPE.

Will one size fit all? Vincent says the vast majority of RFPs are coming from cities with a population of 100,000 or less, and that creates a repeatable model Cisco can work with. That said, he adds, “When selling to a service provider, you need to provide a solution that has sizing options at different layers. ServiceMesh gives a solid idea based on the solid end costs with no surprises.”

“At the implementation stage of a network, we can use our advanced service consulting group, or a partner integrator like HP or IBM,” says Vincent. Cisco is working with IBM, for example, on the deployment of a network in Silicon Valley, with Azulstar servicing as the provider. “We have qualified partners like IBM that work with providers to give the best out-of-box experience,” he says.

In addition to locations like Silicon Valley and Cleveland, Ohio, Cisco announced eight other metropolitan areas using its mesh equipment: Fredericton, New Brunswick; Gilroy and Santa Rosa, California; Winston-Salem and Greensboro, North Carolina; Kitchener and Waterloo, Ontario; and Upper Merion Township, Pennsylvania. Providers include Atria Networks, Cellnet, DHB Networks and MetroConnect. Primary among the objectives for these networks is use by city workers and first responders. Digital inclusion (closing the ‘digital divide’) is also high on many cities’ wish lists.

“We’ve got momentum and we’ve found a repeatable model with the Silicon Valley win,” says Vincent. “For most cities, having this reference design for a muni Wi-Fi facilitates it, sparks it and gets it to revenue faster. Cities are, time after time, very similar deployments with similar benefits.”