Cisco, 10 others in wireless 'net push

Cisco Systems and 10 other vendors have formed a group to push for open standards for broadband wireless internet services.

The wireless 'net initiative will focus on standardisation of MAC (Media Access Control) and VOFDM (Vector Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) physical layer technologies, which will allow wireless products from multiple vendors to interoperate, Cisco said yesterday in a written statement. Cisco acquired VOFDM last year when it bought Clarity Wireless.

"Clearly, we want the technology to be adopted," said Steve Smith, director of marketing for broadband and wireless at Cisco, adding that the company isn't pushing VOFDM to make money but because "we think it's superior. We're not getting royalties from the technology ... We're not doing this to make money with the technology. We're doing it to get this market standardised and going."

VOFDM technologies enable broadband wireless users to have high-speed Internet use as well as frame relay, packet local and long-distance telephony service and VPM (virtual private network) access. The new technology permits two-way data, voice and video wireless communications for homes and businesses.

Cisco expects to release VOFDM-based hardware and software within the next couple of months, Smith said. Products from other companies involved in the initiative are likely to be out next year, he added.

The coalition came about after Cisco consistently heard from corporate customers, including Sprint Communications and MCI WorldCom, that they need low-cost multiple equipment sources with hardware and software that will interoperate in order to boost high-speed wireless services. Low-cost and interoperability needs kept bringing the discussions back to the issue of standards, Smith said.

Companies joining Cisco in the initiative are Motorola, Broadcom, Texas Instruments, Pace Micro Technology, Toshiba, Bechtel Telecommunications, Samsung Electronics, Electronic Data Systems, LCC International0 and KPMG Consulting International.

Other vendors are welcome to join the initiative, Smith said. The initiative does not yet have a Web site, but the coalition members are discussing launching one.

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