MWC 2012: Cisco unveils 'Next Generation' hotspots


Cisco today announced new small cell solutions and next-generation hotspots to help offices move their employees' mobile traffic onto the Wi-Fi network.

With signal issues indoors causing havoc with mobile devices, Cisco claims Wi-Fi can play "a strong role" in boosting capabilities.

Some 85 per cent of time on mobiles is spent inside, proving the drop in signal affects a lot of interactions with a device, Murali Nemani,senior director of service provider mobility marketing at Cisco, told IT Pro.

But she also said it's the habits of employees that increase the need to clear the mobile network and move it onto Wi-Fi.

"Workers are using their cellphone inside the office more than the landline," claimed Nemani. "We would really like to offload that onto the Wi-Fi network."

The small cell solutions can be installed in offices to specifically tackle the mobile issue and prevent users having to use up valuable 3G coverage. But with next-generation hotspots, the employee can continue that experience when they leave the office.

"Employees no longer live in one environment," said Nemani. "Whether at the airport, the coffee shop or on the way home, the issue is they have to look through 30 SSIDs and go through their whole security procedure every time."

By using the Cisco technology, devices can automatically recognise hotspots to use and deploy all of the security measures automatically. this means users can move from office to public space and securely connect to a VPN without manual processes taking up valuable time.

"It creates a seamless authentication and authorisation path," added Nemani. "when employees come to a hotspot, it directs them to a network with the right level of security and lets them carry on with their job."

Cisco cannot do this alone and needs providers to get on-board with the scheme. In the UK, it has the big name of BT backing the products and trialling them with Wi-Fi hotspots across London.

There is also a large mobile operator in the UK trialling the system to use it across its mobile internet network, allowing employees to leave the office Wi-Fi and continue to securely access their corporate systems over 3G or 4G. However, Cisco would not reveal the name of the firm.

The products were launched at this week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.