RealTime IT News

One Step Closer to the Wireless Holy Grail

Hewlett-Packard joined forces with wireless networking specialist Transat Technologies Monday in an effort to push a joint solution that would enable seamless and transparent roaming between 2.5G/3G wireless networks and 802.11 hotspots.

The partnership brings together HP's OpenCall SS7 telecommunications middleware and Transat's WeRoam technology to give mobile operators the ability to create inter-networking agreements with wireless Internet service providers (WISPs) and public wireless local area network (pwLAN) aggregators while still owning (and billing) their customers end-to-end.

WeRoam is based on standard Subscriber Identity Modules (SIMs) -- postage stamp-sized chip cards found in most GSM phones these days. SIMs typically have between 16 and 64kb of memory and are removable. By basing its solution on SIM cards, Transat gives mobile operators the security of GSM phones and the ability to provision and manage pwLAN users in the same way as mobile phone users. This supports users through PIN and password/credit card billing and authentication systems.

SS7 , short for Signaling System 7, is a telecommunications protocol defined by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as a way to offload PSTN data traffic congestion onto a wireless or wireline digital broadband network. It is the core inter-operator signaling infrastructure in use today, and enables, among other things, mobile subscriber authentication and advanced services like Caller ID and Call Forwarding.

Together with OpenCall SS7, WeRoam will form the cornerstone of a wireless infrastructure solution, running on Linux platforms, which will allow users to access voice and data services from a single provider, whether they are on the move or in a hotspot, using a cell phone, a notebook PC or a Pocket PC. Whatever network users happen to be on, their notebooks and PDAs will authenticate with their "home" networks and create a billing record in the home network. HP will round out the offering with solutions consulting, customization and support services.

"Hotspots are proliferating, and mobile operators have a huge opportunity to serve high-value mobile customers -- in hotspots, where customers really need the bandwidth," said Sebastino Tevarotto, vice president and general manager, HP Network and Service Provider Business Unit. "With Transat and HP, operators can tap the opportunity in the only way that makes sense -- by leveraging their existing network investment."

To support the offering HP also said Monday that it has extended its OpenCall HLR (home location register) -- which manages mobility services for more than 70 million subscribers on CDMA networks -- to support GPRS/GSM networks, creating a multi-mode HLR that provisions both standards through a single interface.