Comdex 2001: Cisco pushes for ubiquitous Ethernet connectivity

Cisco Systems announced the next step towards its "broadband everywhere" strategy at Comdex this week.

Cisco Systems announced the next step towards its "broadband everywhere" strategy at Comdex this week.

The networking giant has formed two partnerships related to Cisco's Mobile Office initiative. "We're trying to make people as productive when they're away from their desk as they are when they're at their desk," said Robyn Aber, a Cisco strategic marketing director.

The network company unveiled an agreement with IBM Global Services to offer high-speed Internet access in public venues such as hotels and convention centres. IBM Global Services will provide wireless network consulting, systems integration and helpdesk services. The company will support all IBM hardware and Cisco's Mobile Office group will supply networking hardware.

The programme will deliver several different access technologies, including DSL, cable, ISDN, Ethernet, VPN and 802.11b wireless connectivity. Cisco will also offer its Long-Reach Ethernet technology, which lets building managers extend Ethernet speeds over telephone copper wires. Cisco and IBM are already rolling out the service in hotels. Other target markets include the financial services, business services, government and healthcare industries.

By working with IBM, Cisco will be able to offer a more rapid deployment of mobile access services, said Charlie Giancarlo, senior vice-president and general manager of Cisco's technology development group.

"Enterprises can work together with Cisco and IBM to determine and implement the most effective end-to-end mobile solutions for their professionals on the road, at home and at work," Giancarlo said.

As further proof of its commitment to mobile connectivity, Cisco also announced a partnership with the Fairmont chain of luxury hotels that would see high-speed Internet access deployed at all of its properties.

By early 2002, guests will have both wired and wireless Ethernet access to corporate LANs which, Cisco says, will result in a 100-fold speed increase over dial-up connections.

"We now have more bandwidth per guestroom than any other hotel company in North America," said Tim Aubrey, vice-president of technology for Fairmont Hotels and Resorts.

"There's going to be a lot of take up," Cisco's Aber noted. "[High-speed connectivity] is a competitive differentiator, so even with fewer people travelling right now, it's a way to draw people to the properties."

Taken together, the IBM and Fairmont announcements represent a significant step toward Cisco's ultimate goal of ubiquitous connectivity, Aber said.

"The vision we have for mobility is a world where there is broadband everywhere, so you can get instantaneous access to the Internet, whether you're on the road, at work, or at home," she said. Cisco is aiming to deliver access in 1,200 to 1,500 locations by early 2002.

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