Carrier WiFi

Redback Rolls With Aruba

Networking player Redback Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RBAK) is plotting a move into the public access wireless LAN market and has signed a deal with 802.11 startup Aruba Wireless Networks to do so, Unstrung has learnt.

A reader tipped us off to this little blurb on the Redback site about its WLAN offering and the partnership deal with Aruba. It includes the following statement: "Redback has partnered with Aruba to provide a single point of subscriber management for DSL and WiFi."

A spokesman for Redback wasn't particularly forthcoming about the company's wireless LAN plans. "We haven't announced any details yet," the spokesman told Unstrung [ed. note: and, of course, nobody would ever see it on the Website, right?].

But the details on Redback's site make it clear that the firm plans to use its subscriber management system (SMS) and SmartEdge infrastructure "to aggregate... traffic from WLAN hotspots in areas such as coffee shops, hotels, airports, and campuses.

"The Redback platforms... allow for a consistent set of services to be deployed across DSL and Wi-Fi. The SMS or SmartEdge platform is deployed at the service provider's central office or POP, with a RADIUS server for authentication and service profile management."

Redback plans to OEM as yet unspecified Aruba kit as part of the deal. The startup makes wireless LAN switches that act as a controller for a network of stripped-down access points, handling user management and security and adjusting radio signal strength to prevent overlap and interference on RF channels (see Aruba's Switch Pitch).

It's not yet clear if the Aruba deal represents the tip of the WiFi iceberg for Redback. The company's spokesman "couldn't say" if the firm will sign more partnership deals to facilitate its wireless strategy.

Colubris Networks Inc. and Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) already have a similar hotspot/DSL management deal in place (see Colubris Finds Juniper's Hotspot) If -- as many analysts predict -- major carriers get heavily involved in the hotspot market, we could see more partnerships like this between wireless LAN startups and more established networking players looking to provide the access, management, and billing capabilities that service providers need to handle users roaming across different networks.

For Aruba, the Redback deal is slightly unusual in that the firm has so far solely concentrated on the enterprise sector and left hotspots to others.

But hey, a sale's a sale, right?

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

joset01 12/5/2012 | 1:22:32 AM
re: Redback Rolls With Aruba Yeah, I'm still wondering about this as well. Maybe it was envisaged as a repsonse to the Juniper/Colubris WLAN/B-RAS deal a while back. Either way, neither company is saying much about this.

Dan Jones
wap545 12/5/2012 | 1:22:32 AM
re: Redback Rolls With Aruba Not quite sure of what Redback is thinking here using a WLAN providers products targetted at Enterprise (where customer owns distribution network)to deploy a HotSpot solution for Service Providers. The Aruba product is a fine Enterprise, single customer solution but when one tries to expand the concept of a centrally managed WLAN Switch with low intelleigent Access Points it will immediately run into some simple economics.
1. The HotSpot Model as a profitable service for a Service Provider is a non starter.
2. Anyone (Customer) can buy and install a very reliable Linksys/Netgear AP ($50-70)and order up a Broadband Access device with Internet from the local MSO or Telco ($59-79/mo.)and be in business.
3. The Service the ILEC/WISP/CLEC and others will seek out as viable profitable business model will be the HotZone-based on a Mesh Network design, supported by Central Broadcast 802.16 based Radios, covering a Metro Area with a major anchor (City/County etc)as leads. These networks will not only provide competitive alternatives to any SP HotSpot hopes but:
a.offer cost effective alternative source of bandwidth to private HotSpots (vs. the SP DSL service)
b.provide the SP a major source of revenue from subscribers via Fixed, Portable and eventually Mobile Data throughout the HotZone-without infrastructure CAPEX.
3.begin to capture voice traffic from Cell carriers using the newer Wireless IPVoice capabilities (w/QoS features)along with competing with the newer claims of Narrowband Data Services with the EV-Do and UMTS 3G systems.

Redback needs to begin courting a Mesh network systems provider like BelAir or a Tropos Networks
who will make maximum use of the Redback BRAS/SMS products.

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