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Case Study
May 2002

Wireless LAN Interoperability With GSM Networks


For those who use laptops and PDAs when traveling, the opportunity to obtain hassle free, reliable, and secure high-speed data access is extremely attractive. But the many different access networks and inconsistently applied billing approaches have made today�s service availability frustrating to users. Transat Technologies and Performance Technologies recently introduced an open standard solution for interconnecting wireless local-area networks (WLAN) and cellular networks that support the world�s most popular wireless technology: GSM. This innovative wireless solution enables people to access the Internet at true broadband speeds, up to 11 Mbps, while authentication and billing occurs on their regular GSM cellular accounts.

This new integrated solution makes high-speed data access from alternate locations as easy as using a cellular phone. And therein lies the important difference. Instead of being provided by independent and diverse service providers, wireless operators with large customer bases can now bring a consistently applied service offering to their current subscribers. They can use off-the-shelf hardware, high-speed access with the widely accepted 802.11b standard, the flexibility of GPRS-GSM protocols and their own SS7 networks to offer a service to customers without major changes to their existing operating infrastructure.

To use this solution, the end user needs a laptop that supports the 802.11b standard protocol, either built-in or as a separate card, and secure client and server-based application software. An IP/SS7 signaling gateway translates IP network-originated validation queries into SS7 network queries that access GSM accounts for authentication and billing. Once the subscriber is authenticated, the Internet session begins and is charged to the subscriber�s account. The authentication, authorization, encryption, billing, mobility, and management are all GSM-compliant. To those operators developing 3G networks, this solution offers a chance to provide customers high-speed Internet access now, in advance of the implementation of next-generation networks, which could still be a number of years off.

Bob Mason is director of marketing at Performance Technologies, Inc. Please visit their Web site at www.pt.com.

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