Seamless Roaming

Wireless LANs are being rolled out in places such as trains, railway stations, airports, coffee houses and garages, creating WLAN hotspots. These are pushing forward the dream of ‘wire-free’ working, but this does bring further challenges, such as integration of WLAN access, network security and other wireless access methods. This is where Brand can help.

Brand’s Apollo solution, matured over 14 years of successful deployment, is making mobile data a reality for business-critical data applications using Seamless Roaming for many carrier and enterprise users throughout the world. It removes the uncertainty of using a wireless network to transfer vital information by transparently integrating GSM, GPRS and 802.11b networking with LAN environments, both within the enterprise, and in the field, and provides automatic recovery from dropped connections without repeating a data transaction and assures that data is never lost, corrupted or compromised.

In a train application, the Brand Communications Seamless Roaming solution automatically manages data devices and aggregated bandwidth from whatever is available to it along a given route. The system can be sending data down all the public operator networks, packet or switched or any combination at the same time and will automatically bring on-line high speed WiMAX, Microwave, PWLAN, 2.5G, 3G xxx or Satellite as they come into range. The system continually monitors the performance, integrity, availability and latency of each data pipe to ensure that optimal use is made of it. The solution can also accommodate asymmetric working to allow use of broadcast based bearers. The system can provide seamless roaming across all the bearers or aggregate them as required to achieve a high-speed service, ensuring continuity of connection without the end user having to re-start their Internet session. The system has also been fully tested with 3G devices incorporates these into the data path as they come into coverage which is more likely to be found in Metropolitan areas in early days of deployment.

If the signal is lost, for instance during travel through a tunnel, the system will recover the data connection when signal has been regained, buffering data so that the mobile user does not have to re-connect to the internet.

The solution also includes a Web Optimiser engine developed by Brand Communications that ensures that heavy graphics are optimised for un-wired connections, reducing the size of web site downloads and so enhancing the user experience.

Brand provides significant protection to the mobile user and the data by providing authentication using AES (Advanced Encryption Standard – 3DES replacement) as the VPN.

Brand’s solutions are deployed in many carrier and Enterprise customers across the world and the company specialises in implementing mission critical wireless solutions and strategies. Brand’s Apollo solutions make mobile data a reality using robust session management. It removes the uncertainty of using a wireless network to transfer vital information and ensures compatibility with almost all data devices and networks resulting in a future proof investment for any organisation.

The solution is equally at home in the hands of a single device consumer, or as an intelligent router managing a train backhaul or other mission critical broadband application. The system can also handle automatic hotspot logon through profiles which can manage the authentication for the user and not require the web based pop up screen. This can also be used to optimise connectivity for the xxx user in cumulative time based billed public hotspots.

Concerns for investors in mobile telecommunications

Slowing sales growth and increased margin pressure are shaping up to be the major concern for investors in mobile telecommunications equipment makers in 2005.

Market leader Telefon AB LM Ericsson’s (ERICY) fourth quarter 2004 gross margins Thursday came in below expectations in the face of intense competition. The company said the effect was specific to the fourth quarter – an assertion some investors appeared to doubt as the shares were marked down 7.8% to close at SEK20.20.

Market research firm Gartner forecasts the market for mobile network gear, which accounts for the majority of sales, will grow 5% in 2005.

That compares with estimated 10% growth in 2004, which helped major players show good revenue growth and recovering earnings to offset massive losses and falling revenue in previous years. Ericsson’s shares were up 64% in 2004.

Ericsson projects the market growing between 2% and 5% – both Gartner and Ericsson measure in dollars – and Gartner analyst Jason Chapman said he sees industry margins coming under pressure short term as there will still be a fairly high proportion of hardware sales during at least 2005.

Hardware sales typically attract lower margins than software. Competition for new contracts is fierce and vendors are forced to accept wafer-thin margins, hoping to increase them over time.

“Later, margins should be helped by a growing share of software as upgrades to third generation equipment show up in sales,” Chapman added.

Currently many new networks are being rolled out generating sales of hardware such as base stations and other network equipment. In emerging markets such as Russia, India and Brazil it’s primarily second generation networks using Global Systems for Mobile communications technology that is driving sales. In Europe, third generation network rollouts are now taking place on a large scale.

In connection with the fourth quarter earnings releases Alcatel SA (ALA), Nokia Corp. (NOK) and Ericsson all said that margins have been or will likely be negatively affected by low prices on some new orders the companies have signed for rolling out those networks.

Analysts are worried about the implications of these signs of margins weakness.

“We remain concerned that margins, both gross and earnings before interest and taxes, will remain under pressure through 2005,” said CSFB in a comment to Ericsson’s fourth-quarter earnings.

The bank sees Ericsson’s operating margin coming down to 20% in 2005 from 22% in 2004.

CSFB added that the mobile systems market remains one of the most competitive global industries.

Number two xxx player Nokia said after its fourth-quarter earnings release on Jan. 27 that its targeted 14% operating margin in the infrastructure business will likely not be met short term, also blaming new network rollouts.

Ericsson, Nokia, Motorola Inc. (MOT), Alcatel and Lucent Technologies Inc (LU) showed a combined 14.5% sales growth from its mobile infrastructure and services businesses in 2004 measured in euros, according to calculations by Dow Jones Newswires.

Measured in dollars that growth was around 26%, implying that the major vendors gained market share at the expense of smaller ones.

Ahead, sales growth is seen being higher for services related to mobile xxx infrastructure than for the gear itself. Ericsson said it sees the services market growing 10% in 2005.

Siemens AG (SI) no longer discloses figures for the mobile networks unit and Nortel Networks Ltd (NT) has yet to disclose its full year 2004 earnings due to videos xxx accounting problems.