Cisco mobilizes the router

Cisco Systems Inc. this week unveiled an enhancement to its IOS router software that enables users to deploy wireless routers in their network for mobile communications with the corporate WAN.

Cisco Mobile Networks software supports Mobile IP, an Internet Engineering Task Force specification that enables an IP device to roam across networks and geographies while remaining connected to the network or the Internet using the same IP address. The software allows a Cisco router, along with its connected IP devices, to roam across network boundaries and connection types, Cisco says.

This is instead of wireless handheld or laptop devices running mobile client software, but each having a separate connection to a router. Cisco Mobile Networks enables the entire IP subnet to move, Cisco says, which ostensibly helps reduce the number of connections and IP addresses to manage.

This capability is targeted at industries like emergency management services, as well as railroad, shipping, automobile as well as other transportation and mobile industries and their service providers.

Cisco Mobile Networks operates over cellular and satellite and other types of communications networks. A mobile LAN powered by Cisco Mobile Networks has an “always on” connection to the Internet, enabling users to stay connected during long periods of transit, Cisco says.

For example, an airplane with a router running Cisco Mobile IP with the Cisco Mobile Networks functionality can fly around the world with all passengers continuously connected to the Internet. The passengers connect their laptops, PDAs, or cell phones to the router on the airplane using traditional LAN technologies such as Ethernet or the IEEE 802.11b wireless LAN standard. No special “mobility enabled” devices – such as those running Mobile IP client software – are required, since the network is enabling the mobility, Cisco says.

Cisco’s Mobile Networks functionality is available now in Cisco IOS release 12.2(4)T, which runs on a range of the company’s routers, from the series 2600 to the series 7200.

Separately, Cisco is developing Mobile IP client software for individual users that will be released before year-end. This will be targeted at the mobile user, whereas Mobile Networks software is targeted at certain industries requiring private mobile IP networks.