Cisco plans aggressive expansion

01 Jan 2006
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Cisco Systems charted an aggressive expansion of its broadening telecom strategy last month by using its worldwide analyst conference as a forum to launch new initiatives into the enterprise, demonstrate IMS-enabled fixed-mobile convergence and launch additional networking services.

These moves followed Cisco's announced acquisition of set-top box manufacturer Scientific-Atlanta for $6.9 billion. That move, expected to close shortly, positions Cisco to target Internet television as its next growth business. Scientific-Atlanta's leading customers include MSOs Time Warner Cable, Cablevision and Comcast. SBC and Motorola are also customers. The deal will give Cisco about 40% of the US set-top box market. Scientific-Atlanta will become part of Cisco's routing and service provider technology unit.

Cisco is concentrating on enabling triple-play services in several ways. At its worldwide analyst meeting in early December, the company demonstrated IMS-enabled fixed-mobile convergence for its next-generation network or NGN. The demo displayed location, roaming and handoff of voice calls between Wi-Fi and cellular networks using a dual-model handset.

The effort used key components of Cisco's Service Exchange Framework, including its call session control platform, its BTS10200 softswitch and its MGX8880 Media Gateway. 'The Service Exchange Framework will enable operators to deliver-mobile convergence for any service, from anywhere and at any time,' said Mike Volpi, Cisco's senior vice president of the routing and service provider technology group.

The MGX8880, billed as the industry's first MPLS-enabled media gateway solution for wireless, wireline and cable, was announced at the event. Cisco also unveiled a new integrated Session Border Control (SBC) for its XR12000 series router and four other telecom product enhancements.

Cisco also launched an advanced enterprise solution called application networking services, designed to improve the performance of critical business applications in the enterprise. The services help IT departments integrate their applications and optimize their networks.

'Cisco Application Networking Services are network-based technologies for improving the performance of software applications for accessing information, collaborating and communicating,' explained Cisco senior VP Charles Giancarlo. He added the new services should improve CRM, ERP, finance, human resources and other applications for enterprise customers.

Giancarlo added that Cisco benefits in the telecom space by being able to embed such advanced services within the network that carries them. 'Over time we will expand our technology portfolio to better address even more applications-related information technology challenges,' he said.

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