New routers let companies exploit 3G cellular data networks

Intended to let businesses quickly set up secure, managed cellular wireless connections

Sixnet is introducing hardware to help corporate customers exploit the growing throughput, reach and reliability of expanding 3G cellular data networks.

The products, covering a range of capabilities and prices, are intended to let businesses quickly set up secure, managed cellular wireless connections. Cellular data is being used to simplify deployment of networked ATM cash machines, stand-alone retail kiosks, backup WAN links to remote offices and branches, or even as the primary connection to replace 56Kbps or relatively expensive MPLS circuits, according to officials with Sixnet.

The company was founded in 1976 with a focus on industrial networking, remote terminals and analog modems. Over the past two year, it's been expanding into wireless products, first with the acquisition of Bluetree Wireless, a maker of cellular data modems, and then of JBM Electronics, which has been introducing cellular data service to companies in financial services and retail markets.

Much of Sixnet's focus is on machine to machine (M2M) wireless connectivity, not only telemetry but increasingly a range of point-of-sale gear, digital signage, and in one case a company that offers remote DVD-rental kiosks. Other hot growth areas include security/surveillance, energy monitoring and management, and remote healthcare.

Cellular is only one of the wireless networks used for such applications. A year ago, Harbor Research projected that the number of intelligent devices shipped will jump from 73 million in 2008 to 430 million in 2013. These include devices on IEEE 802.15 wireless sensor networks.

Other vendors in the M2M space include Kore Telematics and Jasper Wireless. In 2009, AT&T partnered with Jasper so the carrier could bring online more quickly the growing diversity of cellular-based devices, both consumer and industrial.

The Sixnet products are the first to be introduced after these acquisitions.

The QuicKonnect Router is designed for fast, easy network connectivity. It supports IP passthrough, extending the operator-assigned IP address to the devices on the other side of the router. QuicKonnect can also link directly with wireline Cisco routers, creating a out-of-band access to the router console, and giving network administrators a cellular link to managing remote wireline network infrastructure, says David Graybeal, Sixnet's vice president of North American sales.

QuicKonnect has a base price of $465 for a unit that accepts a USB cellular dongle from a given mobile carrier. The price starts at $700 for built-in cellular.

The Sixnet EnterprisePro Router is aimed directly at enterprise cellular deployments, supporting a range of standard protocols, such as Virtual Routing Redundancy Protocol, which allows the EnterprisePro device to be clustered with existing Cisco routers, for example. If the Cisco device should fail, EnterprisePro automatically takes over as the WAN connection. It incorporates a stateful firewall, with Access Control List and packet filtering support, and has a built-in IPSec client. It also  offers the same out-of-band management feature for gear such as WAN routers or PBXs. It comes in two models: one with a single Ethernet port, the other with a four-port switch integrated.

The single-port EnterprisePro model is $525 with USB card; the four-port model is $595 for the same configuration.

The third product is the Sixnet Internet Gateway, intended mainly for remote ATM machine connectivity. It supports a variety of local connecting options to the machine or kiosk, prices range from $350 with USB interface, to $500 for embedded 3G.

(A final new product is the Sixnet ATM Internet Gateway, a non-wireless device that adds IPSec or SSL security to existing landline-based ATM networks.)

All of these products can be managed by the SixView Application Manager, which is designed to create a single view of Sixnet-based network products, with extensive radio monitoring and management features. The server-based software is priced at $5,000.

Follow John Cox on Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnww

Read more about lans and wans in Network World's LANs & WANs section.

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