Nortel unveils 'Wings of Light' wireless plan

Nortel Networks last week launched a wireless internet strategy that is intended to let mobile users access data and applications as if they were in a fixed location.

The strategy, dubbed Wings of Light, is intended to marry Nortel's optical networking prowess with mobile wireless technology. Wings of Light includes an alliance with Hewlett-Packard to develop wireless internet access products and create mobile e-services, as well as software to maintain users' internet connections as they roam.

Under the alliance with HP, the companies will work together to develop mobile portal products. The initial offering will be a mobile portal that combines each company's computing, middleware and appliance clients to enable internet access across Nortel's wireless and optical infrastructure. The portal will be designed to let users roam between networks without losing their internet connection or IP address.

The product will be available by year's end, Nortel says.

The mobile portal offerings will use HP's Mobile E-service commerce platform, which comprises HP-UX and Windows NT servers running the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP). The platform supports conventional internet and wireless transactions, and includes tools that enable developers to create, deploy and manage e-services.

The mobile portal client package will include WAP phones, and Windows CE and Palm OS handheld devices.

According to Nortel, the global market for wireless infrastructure is expected to reach $US200 billion by 2003, and the market for mobile portals is predicted to reach $11 billion by 2003. Nortel projects that 300 million users will access the internet via wireless means by 2004.

The Nortel and HP portal will include voice capability, compression, security and quality of service, and enable access to enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, database, email and voice mail content. Nortel and HP say they are also exploring other wireless internet opportunities, including "m-commerce" offerings. These offerings will allow businesses to integrate their sales, marketing and service capabilities with the internet, Nortel says.

HP also will provide integrated payment systems to enable secure electronic transactions over wireless devices connected to Nortel's wireless and optical infrastructure.

In addition, the companies plan to combine Nortel's 2.5G and 3G wireless infrastructure products with HP PCs using Nortel's e-mobility Acceleration software and IP Mobility middleware, which was also announced last week. This effort should result in products that deliver content that is optimised according to an end user's location, network and device, Nortel says.

E-mobility Acceleration software is a client/server compression program that includes a Windows-compatible client residing on a laptop computer, and a proxy server within a corporate intranet or service provider network.

Nortel's new IP Mobility software enables users to access the web while roaming, and have personalised content follow them across wireline and wireless IP networks as they move from building to building or from network to network using different handheld devices, laptops and appliances.

IP Mobility complies with the Internet Engineering Task Force's Mobile IP specification, and incorporates centralised directory management, security, device independence and application independence.

IP Mobility runs on Nortel's Shasta switches and will be available in 2001. The company did not disclose pricing.

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