Volpi: What kind of wireless?
Light Reading: Good question.
Volpi: I think of wireless in three technology sets: 802.11 or Wi-Fi; fixed wireless; and then roaming mobile stuff. In fixed [radio] wireless, we completely quit. There's no development at all at Cisco…
Light Reading: Real quickly, why not?
Volpi: The market's just not there.
In 802.11, we're spending a lot of resources doing that. We're targeting the upper tier of that market – the enterprise sale. So we're... integrating the technology with switches in routers and trying to get customers to roll it out in a structured way.
We are also doing some work on the public part of the Wi-Fi stuff. We have some customers rolling it out in cafes or airport lounges. It gets more attention, but it's only about 10 percent of the (overall) market.
Again, our objective is to add value. We're not going to win the cost game against Taiwanese manufacturers, so we've got to think of the manageability and the integrated capabilities of a wireless LAN.
Finally, on the mobile wireless side, we have a GGSN (Gateway GPRS Support Node) product in the market, and it's been pretty successful.
Light Reading: Well, when we talk to our guys on the wireless side, it turns out that some of this gear is just routers. So what is it and what does it do and why is it important?
Volpi: The wireless carriers are thinking about offering data services of some kind on their devices. The way that they implement a data service is to create a Layer 2 tunnel – a session – from a device to something on the other end that terminates it. Usually PPP is the protocol of choice. So our devices basically aggregate a large number of PPP sessions that are coming from these client devices into [a device] that's not dissimilar from a router, that gathers them up, terminates the PPP, sessions and offloads them onto an IP network.
So, conceptually, the product is not dissimilar from an SMS you would use in DSL... Eventually you can take one of those PPP sessions and send it to ISP 1 or 2, or you can rate limit it and do all sorts of things.
Light Reading: So what product – are you just retrofitting a 7500 to do this?
Volpi: Yes. Right now our products are the 7500 and 7200 with the software that does that. And eventually we will add that capability to the other routers in our portfolio.
Light Reading: Why not add the functionality to the GSR now? Or do you just not need that much capacity?
Volpi: Wireless connections are relatively low speed. As much touted as they are, they're usually only about 100 kilobits [per second]. Even Juniper has a competitive product in the J-Series, and even that's overkill for the kinds of connections you'd be handling.
Light Reading: Thank you for your time, Mike.
— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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