Nokia Siemens integrates Wi-Fi and cellular networks

Nokia Siemens' Smart WLAN Connectivity Solution will free users from having to manually switch a device's data connection between Wi-Fi and cellular broadband, the company said Tuesday.

The Smart WLAN package should make Wi-Fi hotspots easier to use for both consumers and operators. The product will be launched at Mobile World Congress, running Feb. 14 to Feb. 17 in Barcelona.

Operators are looking for ways to offload rapidly growing amounts of data traffic, and Wi-Fi hotspots have already proved to be a good way to do that.

Smart WLAN allows operators to use existing functions such as authentication, charging, policy control and traffic management for both mobile and Wi-Fi traffic in a unified way, according to Nokia Siemens.

Users will be able to move between Wi-Fi and cellular broadband, with the network handling the transition without interrupting the connection, much in the same way users today move between different mobile base stations. If the operator uses SIM-based authentication for both networks, users won't have to enter a password.

The Nokia Siemens Smart WLAN Connectivity Solution will be available for commercial use in the first half of 2011. It includes device management, authentication, a policy control server and the Flexi Network Gateway, which will allow Wi-Fi hotspots and the mobile network to work as one.

Nokia Siemens isn't the only vendor working to integrate Wi-Fi hotspots and cellular networks, Ericsson has similar plans, it said on Tuesday.

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