Cisco’s Trains, Planes and Automobiles

The dream of an “always-on” Internet connection while riding on airplanes, ships, cars and trains got a boost in the arm this week.

Networking equipment maker Cisco Systems Wednesday said its new “networks in motion” Cisco 3200 Series Mobile Access Router allows for mobile Internet access like data, voice and video, for compatible devices installed in moving vehicles.

Based on mobile IP standards like PC/104-PLUS architecture, the router is enhanced by Mobile Networks, a feature in Cisco’s IOS Software that lets an entire network, not just a single client, stay connected while in motion.

Cisco said its IOS Software also has advanced security features such as firewall protection and encrypted virtual private networks (VPNs), which keeps the data secure over a public WAN . The router’s common protocol technology lets the device detect several wireless networks and frequency bands.

But because governments are spending more these days than telcos and other IT companies, San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco said it will first market the device to the defense, public safety and commercial transportation sectors.

The idea is to let law enforcement and other public service agencies run packet-extensive applications such as IP video surveillance, mug shot and fingerprint scanners, law enforcement data systems, and government agency databases in the field. The 3200 Series Mobile Access Router measures 3.5 inches by 3.8 inches is so sturdy, Cisco said it could even be installed in a tank.

“We all know the world of emergency response has changed,” said Sergeant Dean Zanone of the Seal Beach, California, Police Department, and a Cisco 3200 Series customer. “Responding appropriately requires the best available communication technologies. Ubiquitous, IP-based wireless communications, incorporating Cisco’s mobile access router, provides us the real-time information that we need to properly deploy our considerable resources and meet any challenge.”

Cisco also said it is working with aviation service supplier Lufthansa Systems and Lufthansa Technik to offer in-flight networking from existing ground-based IP networks and applications to airline cabins.

“Since this is a standards-based solution, we are not locked into a proprietary system, which means we have greater flexibility for our customers to add new applications and incorporate future technologies,” said Lufthansa Technik senior vice president Bernhard Conrad.

Prices for the 3200 Series Mobile Access Router range from $5,000 to $10,000, depending on data volumes and other features. Cisco said it would continue to make improvements to the router over the remainder of the year.

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