Colubris prepares entry into local hotspot space

With an abundance of potential hotspot projects in the region, Colubris Networks is looking to capitalise on these opportunities and provide service providers with a Wi-Fi solution, which it claims can significantly lower the cost and complexity of deploying a hotspot.

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By  Zoe Moleshead Published  July 31, 2003

Market opportunities|~||~||~|The rollout of hotspots in the region is set to gain increasing momentum over the next 12 months. Bahrain’s PTT, Batelco, has already rolled out a hotspot in the international airport, while other local operators and ISPs have announced plans to begin deploying wireless sites in public areas.

With an abundance of potential projects in the region, Colubris Networks is looking to capitalise on these opportunities and provide service providers with a Wi-Fi solution, which it claims can significantly lower the cost and complexity of deploying a hotspot.

The vendor’s products, which include the CM1000 series for enterprises and the CM3000 series for service providers, integrate security features within them that negate the need to deploy additional devices and, as such, lower the overall investment costs.

“Inside the Colubris access controller there is the access point, but there is also a virtual private network (VPN) and firewall built into the device,” explains Chris Heyn, regional sales director for 3 Continents Networks & Communications, which is engineering Colubris’ move into the Middle East.

“The integration of the VPN, firewall and access point in a single solution provides an economy of scale compared with having to deploy three devices to arrive at the same point,” he adds.

Additionally, Heyn also highlights the ease of use and manageability of the products, which he says are critical at the service provider level where users could be deploying and controlling multiple devices in widespread locations.

“The ease of use is another benefit. When the operator is installing their Wi-Fi products, they want to get them up and running quickly, but they don’t need super experts to configure and set up these devices,” he claims.

“Also, because these devices are likely to be installed in diverse locations, they enable a remote manager to configure, control and take down devices, so they don’t have to go running out to the site to do this,” Heyn adds.

Colubris’ product offerings have also been strengthened by a number of partnerships with both network vendors and billing/accounting companies. For example, the wireless vendor has recently teamed up with Juniper Networks to develop a more comprehensive solution for service providers.

“The partnership is so powerful because it ensures that a low cost public wireless local area network (PWLAN) access point box solution from Colubris can be integrated with Juniper’s E-series (ERX) platforms and SDX-300 service delivery mechanism,” says Chris Moore, regional sales manager, Middle East & Southern Africa, Juniper Networks.

“The Juniper/Colubris solution allows service providers to work without the ‘one per hotspot’ gateway. For those operators with ERX already installed in their networks it also means they can deploy PWLAN services at a very low cost with high functionality and fast deployment times,” he adds.

Furthermore, Colubris has reached an an agreement with billing and management service provider, Wificom, which is also in the process of setting up an office in Dubai Internet City, according to Heyn.

“Another important factor to do with public access is how to charge people for using the system and for that you need to have a position or a recommendation for a billing system that could be used. [As such,] Colubris recently teamed with a Wificom,” he says.

Locally there are already some small Colubris implementations in Saudi, with further devices in testing with interested parties in the region. Furthermore, 3 Continents is in discussion with three potential Colubris partners in the UAE, three in Saudi Arabia and one in Kuwait. It hopes to have these finalised by Gitex in October. Heyn is also keen to appoint a local distributor in the region.

“This year for Colubris we have been focusing on the value added resellers (VARs), particularly those who are able to provide a turnkey solution,” he says.

“We also intend to have a [local] distributor because there is a definite value in making sure products are found in the [Middle East]. Otherwise resellers will have to buy them from Canada, which is a long way away and some resellers are not good at importation,” Heyn explains.||**||

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