IBM and Rocksteady Networks today announced that the companies will provide the infrastructure for Columbia Advanced Wireless (CAW) to offer high speed wireless Internet access at more than 1,000 truck stops throughout the country. The new solution will enable trucking enterprises to gain access to critical information by extending an e-business through this new wireless e- solution.
Rocksteady software loaded on IBM's Intel-based servers running Linux will enable the nation's truckers to connect to the Internet through 802.11 Wireless Local Area Networks (WLAN'S) deployed by Columbia Advanced Wireless. The new solution follows IBM's recent announcement that the company joined Intel and AT&T to form a new company called Cometa Networks to roll out a ubiquitous nationwide network of public wireless LANs.
According to studies by CAW, more than 25 percent of the three million truck drivers in the U.S. carry laptops.  The benefits of Internet access to truck drivers are numerous including the ability for drivers to quickly locate and negotiate loads, to transact banking, to maintain contact with their business partners and employers, and to track weather and road conditions.
CAW will deploy 802.11b or Wi-Fi hotspots at selected truck stops and offer prepaid access cards that act like prepaid calling cards. When accessing the Wireless Local Area Networks at the truck stop drivers can access the Internet using wirelessly enabled laptop computers and are prompted to enter an account number from the prepaid access cards. This new service is designed to increase the driver's success in a highly competitive industry.
For security and optimum performance CAW will deploy the Rocksteady NSA Network Sharing Application and IBM eServer xSeries systems running Linux as the platform for the new Internet access points. Rocksteady NSA selectively determines whether the truck driver can enter the network and dynamically manages their Internet session based on their credentials. Additional capabilities, such as dynamic bandwidth shaping and metering, help provide a high level of network performance by allocating and prioritizing bandwidth usage in real time on a user-by-user basis.
"Trucking enterprises can help maximize the return on their IT investment by utilizing an on demand operating environment through this secure, reliable and scalable end-to-end mobility solution," said Rich Michos, VP Linux Servers, IBM. "Accessing backend applications and data running Rocksteady Network software on Linux and IBM Intel-based servers, the new solution will help streamline the efficiency of the trucking industry's business processes enabling truckers to do more business from the road."
"We wanted truck drivers to be able to enter a truck stop, and purchase a prepaid card to gain access to the network, much like a pre-paid phone card," said William Read, CEO, Columbia Advanced Wireless. "We require virtually 100% uptime, and since we don't maintain an IT staff at the locations, we need a highly reliable solution. We tried other solutions that simply were not up to the task of performing reliably in a hostile environment. Fortunately, we have found the integration of the IBM xSeries systems and Rocksteady's Network Sharing Application meets our reliability requirements and provides us the ability to rapidly deploy and easily manage our platforms."
"With our expanding relationship with IBM, we can provide cost-effective solutions that will span 1,000 truck stops within four time zones," said Kerry Grimes, president and CEO, Rocksteady Networks. "CAW wanted a product that was easy to install and maintain but powerful enough to handle high-volume Internet access with maximum quality of service. With IBM's hardware and our software, we were able to provide those services without requiring IT managers to be onsite, which has the ability to save CAW thousands of dollars in costs each month."