Cisco centre radiates speed

Cisco opened a converged mobility centre in North Sydney on Thursday which will showcase the deployment of high speed, IP-based networking and highlight the vendor's 802.11a (54Mbps) and 802.11b (11Mbps)-compliant Aironet wireless access points.

Aironet is based on technology that Cisco gained from its purchase of Australian company Radiata, a wireless chip maker, in November 2000. Radiata pioneered 802.11a technology, which is now certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Adam Radford, manager of the centre, demonstrated the technology, which allows voice and data applications to be accessed wirelessly at speeds of 54Mbps in the 5GHz band.

"It's not just the raw bandwidth that separates the 802.11a and 802.11b standards," Radford said. "For example, 802.11a has eight channels for data transfer whereas 802.11b has only three. This gives 802.11a more scalability and allows for a greater number of users."

Radford demonstrated Cisco's IP/TV and IP SoftPhone applications to show how converged voice and data applications can be accessed at a single wireless point.

"I can reach my desk phone from anywhere in the world through our VPN," Radford said. "Convergence gives the best of both worlds."

Although reluctant to comment on whether Cisco products will eventually support the emerging 802.11g standard, Radford said there are a number of vendors in the Cisco compatibility program who already support it.

"802.11b access points can be upgraded to support 802.11a so that is an easier path to the higher bandwidth," Radford said.

Senator Richard Alston, Minister for Communications, IT, and the Arts, was still dodging questions about Telstra's write down today when he officiated at the opening of the centre.

"Australia should be proud that Radiata came up with 802.11a technology and that a good corporate citizen like Cisco is pulling its weight in Australia with such a high level of research and development support," Alston said.

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