Funk gets tuned for wireless

Funk Software Inc. is making it easier for service providers to keep Mobile IP wireless sessions up and running as users move from cell site to cell site within new wireless networks.

An update to Funk’s Steel-Belted RADIUS software for service providers manages the transfer of Mobile IP data to smoothly hand off sessions between wireless cells. Such handoffs require wireless network access points to tap session information from a Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) about active devices that are moving out of range of one cell and coming into range of another.

Carriers will need this capability as they build Mobile IP networks, says Jeff Phillips, an analyst with TeleChoice Inc. “This will enable providers to bring [authentication, authorization and accounting] to these new wireless networks,” he said. Phillips said he is unaware of any other RADIUS vendors selling this feature.

Funk is selling the wireless support as an add-on to the base software package of its new Steel-Belted RADIUS/SPE Version 3.0, which is available now. Steel-Belted RADIUS accepts or rejects users attempting to access dial-up networks, such as an ISP. RADIUS authorizes users based on policies in a central database and keeps account of user activity once users have been admitted to the network.

Also new in Version 3.0 is the ability for Steel-Belted RADIUS to tap non-RADIUS data. Phillips said providers can use this feature to have the software check whether customers have paid their bills, and if not, deny them access. Alternatively, access could be granted, but with a message telling a user that his bill is overdue, Funk said.

In Version 3.0, Funk is adding what it calls spooled accounting, where accounting data from distributed RADIUS servers can be written to a central hard drive so providers can pull together a customer’s billing information. If the billing system that needs the data is unavailable for some reason, Steel-Belted RADIUS servers will hold the data until the billing system is up again. Previously, there was no guarantee this data would be delivered to the billing system.

Steel-Belted RADIUS/SPE Version 3.0 costs US$20,000 per server for the base package and an additional US$20,000 for the wireless package.