RealTime IT News

NetMotion, AT&T Wireless Team on GPRS

In a deal expected to help boost its profile in the wireless networking sector, NetMotion Wireless, a software provider for enterprise networks, has been tapped by AT&T Wireless to provide VPN services for its GPRS network.

The deal places the Seattle-based NetMotion Wireless at the center of a number of vertical industries that are grappling with wireless local and wide area networking problems as companies try to hold down costs while upgrading to speedier new digital networks.

In this case, AT&T Wireless has dubbed NetMotion Wireless a "preferred provider" of software and hardware clients that help customers build bridges in their wireless networks between "dead" spots that can crop up from one networking protocol, such as Wi-Fi and the older CDPD (Cellular Digital Packet Data) protocol . The CDPD standard uses cellular phone frequencies to transmit data packets at data rates of up to 19 kilobits per second or lower.

As major carriers shut down their CDPD networks to switch customers to faster networks such GPRS and CDMA2000 , NetMotion Wireless is one of the software companies helping clients, such as municipal and public networks, manage the switch.

Under the deal, AT&T Wireless is making the company's NetMotion Mobility product the centerpiece of its recommended VPN. The NetMotion Mobility product is a layer of software that helps mobile device users roam between different networks such as from Wi-Fi-enabled access, to an older CDPD network to a GPRS network.

Shelly Julien, a vice president for strategy at NetMotion Wireless, said although health care is a key industry for wireless networking services, the public safety sector has also become one to watch.

She said one reason the sector is in the wireless spotlight is because of the legacy problems municipalities and public safety networks are experiencing with their wide area data networks, which for years have run on the CDPD networking standard. These organizations have used these networks for applications such as computer-aided disptach for police and fire safety.

AT&T Wireless, for example, has announced plans to shutter its CDPD network by next June as it upgrades customers to faster networks. But as public safety networks move to upgrade to GPRS, they are finding that their computer-aided dispatch applications are marooned on a CDPD technology platform that used static IP addresses for networking, compared to the dynamic IP addresses that faster networks deploy in newer data-over-cellular networks.

"These are very expensive systems that only deal with static IP addresses," said Julien. As a result, she said, the company is aiming its products at enterprises that are looking for help running applications across a hodge-podge of IP-based wireless networks.

The products are built to take advantage of the economics of Wi-Fi, but also deal with the lack of range that bedevils Wi-Fi networking, while helping users to hang onto their data as their devices pass from, say, a Wi-Fi network to a 3G network.

The deal means AT&T Wireless customers get security, increased performance, and roaming for their applications, the company said, across multiple IP-based networks, wired or wireless, and through coverage gaps, while offering end-to-end VPN security, including 128-bit AES encryption.