Cisco outlines strategy for ubiquitous connectivity

Cisco outlines strategy for ubiquitous connectivity

Cisco Systems' executives on Thursday outlined a two-pronged strategy to deliver high-speed, ubiquitous Internet access.

Two key markets, wireless technology and broadband services in previously unwirable buildings, will encourage the drive toward connectivity anywhere and at any time, Mike Volpi, Cisco's chief strategy officer, said during a biefing. "Continuity of Ethernet is very important to our customer base," Volpi said.

"We're able to provide a complete solution now -- maybe not for full mobility, but for what you might call a 'nomadic' lifestyle," said Charles Giancarlo, senior vice president of Cisco's commercial and consumer divisions. "You can get access to applications both in your office and when you're on the road."

Sales of Cisco's Aironet 350 family of WLAN (wireless LAN) devices will be boosted by demand from mobile workers, the health care sector, educational institutions, and retail kiosks, according to Volpi. He added that in the coming months Cisco will announce partnerships with companies that use retail kiosks, such as cafes and airport red-carpet clubs.

The company also plans to target the transportation sector, hoping to install its WLAN solution on airplanes and trains. No new product announcements were made during the briefing.

Research company, Cahners In-Stat Group has predicted that the 802.11b market will grow from $US1.8 billion today to $2.7 billion in 2003. Cisco enjoyed a 50 per cent growth spurt in its wireless products in 2000 and anticipates another 50 per cent to 75 per cent gain this year, according to Giancarlo.

Volpi added that the 802.11b wireless standard (which Cisco has embraced) complements, rather than competes against, the nascent 3G (third-generation) wireless standard, because the two technologies can work together to provide blanket-coverage Ethernet access.

For example, "if I roam into a wireless LAN arena, I have a full 10Mbps. But in my car or an area where I don't have that coverage, I resort back to the lower bandwidth, but more ubiquitous, 2.5G or 3G technology," Volpi said. He added that Cisco is currently having talks with device manufacturers who may integrate the 3G and 802.11b technologies on dual-mode devices.

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