Redback Puts 802.11b at the ISP

San Jose-based Redback Networks has long offered it’s SMS family of subscriber management products to Internet service providers (ISPs) for better management and aggregation of services to thousands of subscribers via a single platform. In the past, those subscribers had to connect via dial-up or Ethernet, but Redback has gone wireless.

The SMS platform now supports 802.11b wireless networking connections for both retail and broadband access, letting providers use existing equipment. SMS lets them add services and thus increase margins.

“ISPs utilize the SMS platform to aggregate large numbers of broadband users and deliver services,” says Shailesh Shukla, VP of marketing and business development at Redback. “It’s agnostic to what access method you come in on, could be DSL, Cable, wireless. And now we’re in a position to support 802.11b standard. In some sense, why this is significant …we find Wi-Fi hot spots being rolled out around the world, which is great. What’s missing is linkage between all of these hot spots.”

The SMS platform deployed at an ISP’s data centers or a carrier’s network access points receives wireless traffic via Wi-Fi access points connected to Ethernet switches that feed traffic to the SMS system. The platform is in use by major telcos in North America such as Verizon, Qwest, and Bell Canada and by cable companies in Europe.

The product line consists of three products, the high-end SMS 10000 for large points of presence (POPs), the mid-range SMS 1800 for up to 8000 subscribers, and the compact form-factor SMS 500 for up to 2000 subscribers.

“This is the early stage of a world-wide Wi-Fi hot spot deployment,” says Shukla. “Today there’s upstart standalone hot spot service providers, but the key is common unified billing and services, and that can only come from linking it to what already exists. That’s where the SMS becomes very powerful.”

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