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Issue of September 2006 

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The truth about mobile IP

IP Mobility means more than accessing a wireless network. It encompasses the ability to work seamlessly across networks and devices, says Amandeep Singh Dang.

Amandeep Singh Dang

Internet Protocol (IP)’s precedence stands unquestioned. IP is there to stay for long and will continue to transform so as to accommodate newer challenges. The recent developments in IPv6 re-establish its future dominance.

Wireless IP

In line with IP’s current evolution trends, wireless technologies have matured to be widely accepted even for mission-critical application usage. This maturity was marked with continued upgradation and service enhancements in areas of Wi-Fi, WiMAX, 3G, and more.

Today, wireless technology extends IP services not only to a seamless roaming static environment, but to an environment which is dynamically in motion. IP mobility adds a new dimension to the existing flexibility extended by standard wireless networks by enabling it to offer a service portfolio that wasn’t possible in the past.

More than just wireless

If the references so far suggest that IP mobility only accounts for IP connectivity on a wireless platform, then consider some more meaningful and generic definitions. IP mobility is about providing ubiquitous connectivity irrespective of device and access technology.

IP mobility may mean different things to different people. For some, mobility is achieved if they are able to take their portable computing device from their desk to their conference room, and for some the mobility coverage encompasses much beyond premises, town, countries and sub-continents.

Mobility is a start towards establishing an enterprise’s IP mobility objectives; be it seamless corporate services to its mobile sales force or IP connectivity for control systems on board maintenance vans servicing a manufacturing facility. It can also be more challenging like monitoring onboard computers mounted on a test car on a racetrack.

The Tech extensions

Technology permutations are innumerable when it comes to IP mobility, and the best choice would be the one which comes at par with business application throughput, coverage and response parameters to provide seamless end-user experience. It is of paramount significance that the IP services user interface’s look and feel is not affected by roaming between media types, access technology and presence. This is a challenging mobility control attribute.

One of the prevailing limited wireless mobility technologies, and by far the most widely accepted is Wi-Fi. Limited mobility can be achieved through WiFi under restricted coverage scenarios for high bandwidth applications even while moving at a top speed of 300 kilometres per hour.

This advance in Wi-Fi technology was only possible in recent times due to enhancements in the authentication, authorisation and accounting services and fast access-point-to-access-point switch over capabilities. The limiting factor for Wi-Fi technology is the clear line of sight-prerequisite.

On the horizon

With WiMAX’s recent ratification, IP mobility is all set to take its next big leap. WiMAX’s promise is to overcome the limitations which Wi-Fi technology is still struggling to cope with; limitations such as line of sight and coverage spread. However, with wireless spectrum allocation a challenge for most countries, the wait could be long before this technology’s true benefits are established.

In contrast, shifting trends and maturity in managed services operations for most global telcos give 3G promising prospects in the IP mobility technology space. With a better performance and coverage promise, 3G apparently commands to be the best alternative for moderate bandwidth enterprise applications that require wider coverage areas.

End-user driven

Wireless technology aside, end-user gear and applications are driving development and acceptance in IP mobility. Today over 90 percent of all laptops are pre-equipped with mobility capabilities (irrespective of whether these are put to use or not).

Within the next 10 years, 70 percent of the world’s business processes will rely on exchange of real-time information among mobile workers. If this does not sound compelling enough, it may be noted that over 55 percent of workers in the US are mobile workers. Hence while the demand already exists; technology and applications are yet to catch-up and encash the same.

The author is Senior Manager, Internet Business Solutions, Asia-Pacific, Allied Telesyn

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Indian Express - Business Publications Division

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