Feature Article

January 12, 2009

Wireless Broadband, The New Edge of Business Networking

There has been a lot of activity in the wireless space of late, with new WiFi equipment being introduced and reports of the rapidly growing adoption of WiFi in the home and office, including new networking solutions. There has also been tremendous discussion as to the future of WiMAX, which is certain to continue, as TMC president Rich Tehrani notes. Then, the cellular space has been full of news and innovation, spurred on largely by the tremendous growth of the iPhone application market, Google’s Android platform, and, most recently, Verizon’s release of the BlackBerry Storm, as it also became the nation’s largest wireless carrier with the acquisition of Alltel.
This all points to one end — wireless is clearly the communications technology of the future, and perhaps even the present. It is also a space in which other, non-traditional players can gain traction. After all, businesses and consumers alike are adopting wireless devices, and now, more than ever, are looking for ways to use fewer devices in both environments — which necessarily equates to the growing trend in communications: mobility.
It’s understandable, then, that traditional wireline network operators, those that aren’t already affiliated with wireless carriers, would seek to add wireless access to their offerings. It’s a natural progression, and worth the investment, given the mobile nature of many businesses. What’s more, because those businesses are certain to pay someone for wireless access, why not capitalize on that opportunity.
That’s what New Edge Networks is looking to accomplish with its latest offering, its own EV-DO broadband access, in conjunction with its private MPLS-based network offering coast-to-coast connectivity to business customers.
Citing a number of ideal use cases, from expanding retail operations, those with mall kiosks or seasonal operations, construction firms, and insurance and tax service providers, Greg Griffiths, vice president of marketing for New Edge explained that, “New Edge’s high-speed wireless EV-DO offering can bring measurable benefits to businesses in terms of remote access, increased flexibility, productivity and improved redundancy.”
Any business that finds itself in need of remote broadband access, or even reliable wireless backup for their primary sites, will benefit from the new service. It also is an ideal alternative in areas where wireline access is unavailable or cost-prohibitive, and service can be turned on within two days, which means little lead time and preparation is required. In addition, the wireless technology requires much less up-front capital investment, let alone time to install wired networking equipment.
In addition, with today’s EV-DO Rev. A technology, businesses aren’t sacrificing much in the way of transmission rates, which are comparable to DSL or fractional T1s, according to New Edge Networks. On the other hand, they offer the natural benefit that come with not having to be tethered to a LAN port. 
Of course, New Edge Networks has built its brand around its nationwide SONET network, offering a variety of access types to meet the needs of most any business. It interfaces with “every RBOC in the nation” as well as a number of ILECs. It also peers with several national ISPs, hosting providers, and telcos, enabling it to provide high-quality broadband to its customers nearly anywhere — or now anywhere, with the addition of its EV-DO service.
What this means is that businesses, most of which already have wired networks in place, can combine New Edge’s wireline access with reliable wireless broadband to support all aspects of their operations — all running on New Edge’s secure, privately managed network. Not only does this mean expanded operational capabilities, but it means access is provided by a single network operator, which means less complexity and network setup and maintenance, and lower costs from dealing with a single provider.
Among the first customers to adopt New Edge’s EV-DO service was General Nutrition Centers, which uses New Edge’s services to connect its point of sale system for more than 3,500 corporate-owned and franchised retail outlets nationwide. Late last year, New Edge connected an additional 110 GNC retail outlets in 31 states to the company’s private wide area network using EV-DO, and says plans are in the works to roll out the service to even more locations this year.
“Having a wireless service incorporated into our existing MPLS-based network delivers more flexibility and options to better manage our business while reducing our operational costs,” said Jerry Werner, vice president and chief information officer for GNC.  “Not only do we enhance our robust and secure network, but we are seeing faster cash transactions at our registers and real-time inventory management improvements.”
Certainly, network operators have invested heavily in their wireline networks, and for good reason. They provide stable, high-bandwidth connectivity that meets today’s communications needs. But, as New Edge is proving, advancements in wireless technology offer an opportunity to supplement those wireline networks with wireless, to provide flexibility, productivity enhancements, redundancy, and even connectivity where access is otherwise unavailable. The new service from New Edge is only the latest evidence the wireless technology is not only the future of communications, but that the future is approaching quickly.
For an opportunity to discuss the latest wireless technologies and strategies, plan your trip now to Miami, to be part of the 4G Wireless Evolution show, February 2-4. The event, collocated with INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO, will provide a first-hand look in to the exciting innovation in the wireless space today. Don’t miss this opportunity to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to communications technology.

Erik Linask is Group Managing Editor of MobilityTechzone, which brings news and compelling feature articles, podcasts, and videos to nearly 3,000,000 visitors each month. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Erik Linask

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