Nextel Communications Inc. and RadioFrame Networks, Inc., today launched an integrated cellular/WLAN system, the first set of products and services that improves in-building coverage and capacity for wireless voice and data services and also provides customers the option to deploy a Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) over the same infrastructure. The solution ensures users can make and receive in-building cellular and Direct Connect™ walkie-talkie calls, experience seamless hand-offs when entering or leaving a building and access wireless broadband data anywhere inside a building.
With the integrated cellular/WLAN solution, Nextel extends its Wireless Business Solutions (WBS) platform by designing, installing, monitoring and upgrading all of a customer’s wireless networks — including private two-way radio, cellular and WLAN — eliminating the need for multiple vendors and reducing customer costs, risk and complexity. RadioFrame Networks provides the system infrastructure and associated software that enables multiple wireless interfaces running over a single, powered Category-5 wire.
The new offer is being supported by Nextel’s Custom Network Solutions (CNS) group, which delivers solutions that extend Nextel’s nationwide network into buildings and onto campuses, providing customers with enhanced coverage and advanced wireless services.
“Over the past nine months, IBM Research has been using Nextel’s integrated RadioFrame cellular/WLAN solution and the results have been very positive,” said Albert Schneider, director of Information Technology, IBM Research. “In-building cellular coverage has improved significantly, allowing us to rely on this capability for much of our building operations support. The additional WLAN coverage has also enabled us to compliment our pre-existing internal wireless infrastructure. In general, the Nextel – RadioFrame solution provides an excellent solution for those locations interested in WLAN and complete cellular connectivity.”
WLAN, or Wi-Fi, provides users with wireless connectivity, mobility within the premises and wireless network connections at speeds as high as 11 megabits/second, the standard for 802.11b. It allows employees’ laptops or PDAs to gain untethered access to e-mail, the Internet and wireless data applications anywhere throughout the customer’s facility or campus. The benefits of deploying a WLAN include improved productivity and decreased costs associated with moving, adding and changing employees’ workspaces.
“Employees are increasingly mobile, even when they are on-site, so there is growing demand for improved in-building wireless coverage and capacity and broadband data access, yet until now there hasn’t been a single holistic solution,” said Ernie Cormier, vice president of Business Solutions for Nextel. “The increased coverage and capacity that Nextel’s in-building system provides is like having a cell site inside your building. Integrating a WLAN on the same infrastructure increases employee productivity and reduces costs for our customers, making it the very definition of a wireless business solution.”
Central to the product are RadioFrame Units (RFU), high capacity ‘super access bays’ which are mounted at various locations within a building. Each RFU is about the size of an exit sign and can contain up to seven low-power RadioBlade™ transceivers, which communicate with a full range of mobile devices. The open network architecture allows the system to be configured to increase capacity and to add new, multiple wireless standards to the existing RadioFrame installation with “plug and play” ease, by simply adding RadioBlade transceivers to the RFUs.
“The converged cellular/WLAN solution creates a totally mobile office environment in which employees can realize added productivity,” said Rick Applegate, RadioFrame Network’s vice president of sales and marketing. “And the future-proof nature of the RadioFrame solution means it can be deployed now so companies can start benefiting right away.”
Pricing for the integrated cellular/WLAN system will be customized, within predetermined parameters, based on the specific requirements of the customer and costs of designing, implementing and maintaining the network. Pricing for the WLAN component will be by access point. The solution uses these components:
- Nextel Voice and Data services (national all-digital voice and data network, digital cellular, Direct Connectsm walkie-talkie service, Two-Way text messaging)
- Nextel Wireless Phones and Devices
- RadioFrame® System infrastructure equipment including optional WLAN
- Network Services (network maintenance, monitoring and upgrades)
- Initial Services (site survey and design, equipment installation and consulting)
- Wireless Data Applications (e.g. fleet management, e-mail, GPS, inventory management)
Once installed, users will have access to Nextel’s WBS platform, which combines partnerships, applications, services, tools and the support companies need to effectively deliver real-time information to mobile decision makers at any location on the Nextel Nationwide Network.
The RadioFrame System is Wi-Fi® Certified and compatible with hundreds of client WLAN cards. Additional 802.11 standards can easily be added to the platform. The WLAN component maintains existing customer security policies, supports the IEEE 802.11b security standards and additional security enhancements including, access to the LAN securely through a Virtual Private Network (VPN).