New network technologies offer opportunities for channel

LAS VEGAS – Wide-area Ethernet, voice-over-IP and Wi-Fi are fraught with quality of service problems. But according to exhibitors at the Interop conference and expo here, that is creating opportunities for integrators and resellers.

One example is Helium Networks, which unveiled its Wireless

Recon hardware and software package at the show (formerly known as Networld + Interop). Helium is looking for Canadian resellers, said Chintu Parikh, the Pittsburgh-based company’s president and chief executive officer.

It currently sells Wireless Recon directly in Canada, and one of its beta customers, the University of Sherbrooke, plans to use the tool to make sure its Wi-Fi network can provide adequate coverage and quality to Wi-Fi phones.

Wireless Recon is comprised of the SiteScout hardware, a wheeled cart to which IT workers can attach a notebook with a Wi-Fi card. The cart plots distance and direction, so when the workers roll it through a building it will detect wireless access points and plot the signal strength and interference information on to a map using Helium’s SiteSense software.

The University of Sherbrooke plans to use Wireless Recon to test its Wi-Fi network for both coverage and quality of service, said Pascal Beauregard, the university’s IT and network specialist.

The problems with delay and jitter on voice-over-IP networks can be even worse on Wi-Fi networks, said Neal Roche, director of business development for performance analysis, broadband, at Rockville, Md.-based Spirent Communications, which introduced a voice over IP testing product at Interop. Avalanche 7.0 is designed to help carriers and large organizations test networks for “triple play” voice, video and data applications on a per-port basis for quality of service and security.

During a briefing on the show floor at the Mandalay Convention Centre, Jack Douglass, Spirent’s director of business development for performance analysis, said if a company rolls out voice-over-IP and it doesn’t work well, the IT department will often blame the manufacturer of the IP phones and private branch exchange, even if it’s the underlying network that’s at fault.

Organizations may have a good local-area network, but they need to know whether it’s adequate to support voice, video and data, Douglass said.

“You can’t say, ‘I hope it works,’” Douglass said. “You have to understand how voice, video and data work on the same network.”

More companies are using 10 Gigabit Ethernet to operate networks that run voice, video and data, Roche said, adding resellers can help enterprises test their 10-Gig networks.

Spirent announced its SmartBits Performance Analysis Test System will now be able to test 10-Gig Ethernet, and the vendor also unveiled its TestCenter Ethernet Test system, designed to test networks running Gigabit to the desktop.

Ethernet testing is not just an issue for enterprises, Roche said. Carriers offering metropolitan Ethernet will often segment customers using virtual local-area networks (VLANs), and when there are problems they need to find out exactly which part of the network is at fault.

Ethernet will allow carriers to extend corporate networks to employees’ homes over converged IP networks, said Hossein Eslambolchi, president of AT&T Corp.’s global networking technology services.

During a keynote presentation Eslambolchi said 87 per cent of communication around the world is now on Ethernet networks, and up to 100 million homes will soon have wide-area Ethernet access, he said.

“I believe Ethernet will dominate the home environment.”Eslambochi said homes and small businesses will access networks using the yet-to-be-ratified Wi-Max wireless standards.

The cost of fibre is “prohibitive,” he said, adding Wi-Max will deliver higher speeds than T1 services, and unlike GSM, which competes with CDMA-based technologies, Wi-Max will be a standard.

“I believe 802.16 with Wi-Max will be the first global standard in that space,” he said, adding AT&T plans to offer Wi-Max as an access technology next year.

Wi-Max, the common name for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE)’s 802.16 standards, is designed to give wireless access at speeds up up to 70 Mbps at distances of up to 50 km without requiring line of sight. It is expected to be ratified later this year.

“If you go for small and medium sized businesses, Wi-Max would be perfect to use in those locations,” Eslambolchi said. “Wireless-based services is where innovation starts, at the edge of the network.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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