senior partner, Fox Group Consulting

At the heart of Telus Mobility’s new Multi-Network Data Access Solution (MNDAS) is IBM’s WebSphere Everyplace Connection Manager (WECM) that will provide security, authentication and roaming across multiple wireless networks. Announced last month, this new managed service offering serves both the public safety (such as government and police departments) and business sectors for data access and transfer.

According to Roberta Fox, senior partner with the Markham, Ont.-based Fox Group Consulting, partnering up with IBM was a smart move by Telus.

“IBM has the same level of confidence and trust in the government sector and their solution is very solid to partner with,” she said.

As well, offering MNDAS as a bundled managed service, Fox felt was a step in the right direction.

“[MNDAS] takes a lot of highly skilled and expensive people that are hard to keep in public service and government. The architecture pieces behind it are complicated. There are many pieces to make it work securely and reliably, so governments are struggling with how you do that,” she added.

Rick Good, director of public safety and security solutions for Telus Mobility, said the real advantage of Telus hosting MNDAS is the multiple network aspect, where Telus has wireless networks such as iDEN and 1x cellular systems and customers can roam between those and WLAN networks like 802.11.

“These networks have different coverage areas and also have different speeds and bandwidths. What this middleware (WECM) allows you to do is roam seamlessly between these networks. It is a much more reliable way for our customers to use their data systems,” said Good.

How MNDAS works is a piece of software that is part of WECM is installed on a user’s laptop like an in-car one for police officers that lets the user’s server know when the device has roamed onto a different network.

Marc Boyer, advisory specialist, pervasive computing, for IBM Canada, said the basic concept is for WECM to enhance the way people communicate wirelessly and provide a few things such as guaranteeing security, where users can pick the encryption method or security level they want.All the departments [in government] have been saying security is important to them and now here is a solution you can use. It will be interesting to see if they are really going to put their money where their packets are.Roberta Fox>Text Data is secured up to 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) and certified according to FIPS 140-2, the highest civilian certification for transmitting data in North America. Fox said the encryption aspect of MNDAS is top notch.

The only concern for Fox is the pricing of the service. “It is great technology [but] it depends on how [Telus’] prices it. They will have to pick the price point that makes it affordable to have a customer base,” she said.

Telus said pricing of the service depends on the number of subscribers and the level of security required. Pricing ranges anywhere from $10 to $35 per subscriber a month. As well, the service requires an existing data plan, which ranges from $20 to $100 depending on usage.

Currently, Telus has no clients using the MNDAS service and Fox is most interested in seeing who will be the first to pick up on it.

“All the departments [in government] have been saying security is important to them and now here is a solution you can use. It will be interesting to see if they are really going to put their money where their packets are,” she said.

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