Nokia and IBM today announced that the two companies have signed an agreement to join forces in the public wireless LAN business. Effective today IBM Global Services will act as a system integrator of Nokia's wireless LAN infrastructure products in order to provide public wireless LAN solutions worldwide. At the same time, Nokia will continue sales of its Operator Wireless LAN solution through its existing sales channels.
The cooperation between Nokia and IBM opens new opportunities to bring Nokia's wireless LAN solutions to corporate users and will assist mobility operators and wireless Internet service providers (WISPs) in expediting hotspot roll out. Under the agreement, IBM Global Services will offer its service portfolio including installation, maintenance, financing and consulting services to facilitate faster and easier entry into the growing public wireless LAN market.
"We see this cooperation with IBM as an excellent business opportunity to widen the accessible market for the Nokia Operator Wireless LAN solution and better serve a growing customer demand," says Paavo Aro, General Manager, Wireless LAN Systems, Nokia Networks. "The public wireless LAN service is on the verge of major growth in demand, especially from business users. Forecasts have predicted that more than 100,000 hotspots will be in operation globally within the next four years."
"Rapid implementation of added value data services such as Public Wireless LAN is of crucial importance as operators target a growing corporate user marketplace," said Lars Alm, general manager, wireless e-business services, IBM EMEA. "By combining IBM's wireless e-business services expertise with Nokia's leadership in wireless technology, operators can now benefit from a fast, high performance Public Wireless LAN solution. This new IBM/Nokia collaboration enables them to bring revenue generating Public Wireless LAN services to market quickly, with the assurance that they will integrate seamlessly with existing network topologies and deliver entirely new levels of user experience to business users on the move."
Public wireless LAN offers wireless connectivity services to the visitors of so-called hotspots in public buildings such as airports, hotels, conference centers, as well as corporate premises. Business travelers using any Wi-Fi-certified wireless LAN card can access the Internet and their corporate intranet wirelessly at high-speed. Wi-Fi certification ensures the interoperability of wireless devices using the IEEE 802.11b standard.
It is crucial for mobility operators and wireless Internet service providers to stake their claim early in order to ensure their market presence. This is ever more important since the number of hotspot locations will become limited as competition increases for the most attractive places.
The Nokia Operator Wireless LAN solution supports a variety of business models and existing wireless LAN cards as well as new multimode terminals. This solution also supports various types of authentication, such as SIM based authentication used by mobile operators and the RADIUS type of authentication typically used by WISPs, making the solution an attractive future-proof choice. SIM-based authentication enables service providers to offer their customers the convenience of buying a single data subscription that provides access to GSM data, GPRS and public wireless LAN services with laptops and multimode terminals. It also means that service providers can take advantage of the 25,000 roaming agreements between the members of GSM Association, giving their customers immediate access to hotspots around the globe.