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Go Moto: Motorola in Wireless LAN/WAN Push

Richard Chirgwin

Long known in the outdoor wireless space, Motorola is now launching a push to position itself as offering a complete portfolio in the enterprise space.

The strategy is based on Motorola’s consolidation of a variety of acquisitions giving it enterprise WiFi mobility solutions (via Symbol Technologies), network planning dimensioning tools (via Wireless Valley), security (via AirDefense) and mesh capabilities (Orthogon Systems).

The company has now re-organised its wireless offerings under the new Wireless Network Solutions business unit.

According to Motorola’s WNS sales manager Roy Wittert, Motorola’s decision to adopt this new market position was based on several factors in the wider market. Wittert said the ratification of 802.11n gives the world a wireless standard that’s competitive with 100 Mbps wired Ethernet; at $US5 for a chipset, wireless has become so cheap as to be ubiquitous. In addition, devices and applications are both turning wireless networks into a must-have for business – notebooks are overtaking desktops, an increasing number of smart phones include WiFi, and wireless e-mail is becoming a standard productivity tool.

This makes enterprise wireless (but not consumer wireless) an attractive market. In spite of the dominant position held by the likes of Cisco and ProCurve in the enterprise, Motorola is ambitious. According to WNS sales director John Fogarasi, “we want to get to number two in the enterprise space within two years.”

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Fogarasi isn’t overly concerned about the strength of the incumbents in the enterprise wireless market: “What’s possible? Apple only entered the mobile phone market two years ago, and now it’s a profit-leader.”

So what’s Motorola got on the menu?

The launch of WNS is supported by a variety of product launches due in the coming weeks. These include:

  • The RFS4000, an 802.11n access unit that combines wired and wireless networking and security features, targeting SME and branch office environments;
  • The AP7181 outdoor 802.11n mesh system;
  • The multi-purpose 802.11a/b/g/n dal-radio access point with self-healing mesh and intrusion prevention.
  • Security software – retaining the AirDefense name – provides intrusion detection and prevention, forensics, tracking and troubleshooting for wired and wireless networks.

And for the service provider market, WNS includes three launches: the PNP430, an unlicensed 5GHz-band point-to-multipoint unit with 40 Mbps throughput; the PTP800, a wireless Ethernet microwave system designed for licensed spectrum; and the PMP320, which supports the 802.16e mobile WiMax solution for the 3.3GHz to 3.65GHz licensed bands.

Perhaps surprisingly, the portfolio also includes a converged communications system, the TEAM VoWLAN, which provides access for mobile devices to PBX-based telephony with applications such as text messaging, e-mail and Internet access.

Fogarasi said Motorola has also put a lot of work into the management and administration layer, so there is now “a single console for any ad all solutions in the range.”

The Channel
 

To even consider taking on Cisco in the enterprise wireless space, Motorola is going to have to work hard to attract attention to itself. Here, Fogarasi said, its channel relationships will be key.

“We are looking to increase both the capacity and quality of the channel,” he said. “The strategy will include training and certification.

“There actually aren’t that many good enterprise wireless engineers out there,” he explained. To support the channel, Motorola believes expanding the pool of people who can design and then implement high-quality mesh wireless systems for enterprise customers will be key.

To that end, he said, Motorola will be positioning its accreditations around industry standards, making them useful outside the Motorola-branded world.