Adtran aims to give telcos and other managed service providers the ability to offer wireless LAN connectivity as a cloud-based offering to their enterprise customers. The new services are made possible by new capabilities for the virtual Wireless LAN (vWLAN) technology that Adtran acquired when it purchased Bluesocket just over a year ago.

Adtran/ Bluesocket’s vWLAN product is designed to eliminate the need for enterprise customers to have costly access point controllers, which would otherwise be required at each customer location. Instead AP controller functionality is provided through software that can run on off-the-shelf servers costing as little as $2,000, explained Mads Lillelund, general manager of Adtran’s Bluesocket business division.

The new vWLAN capabilities announced today are designed to enable service providers to centrally host Adtran’s AP controller software and to use it to support multiple enterprise customers. Those customers will still need access points, which service providers may opt to offer on a lease basis and manage them for the customer, Lillelund said.

According to Lillelund, Adtran has seen strong interest in the new capabilities from telcos, including tier 2 and tier 3 operators.

“If you’re a smaller tier 3, you may not have a data center, but you don’t need to have one,” explained Lillelund. Those carriers can support hosted and managed wVLAN services by installing a $2,000 server running the Adtran software in one of their offices, he said.

“You can put 1500 access points on that server,” commented Lillelund.

Alternatively, carriers can install the software in a redundant data center configuration to eliminate the possibility of an individual server becoming a single point of failure and offering an enhanced level of reliability in comparison with premises-based AP controllers, noted Lillelund.

Lillelund noted that some service providers currently offer WLAN connectivity using a managed service approach in which AP controller functionality resides on the customer premises. In comparison, the hosted approach eliminates the need for truck rolls to service or replace AP controllers and enables service providers to offer stronger service level agreements.

Using a hosted approach also eliminates scalability issues associated with using a premises-based AP controller, Lillelund said. Hardware-based AP controllers are more limited in how many access points they can handle, requiring the customer to purchase an additional AP controller as soon as the specified limit is exceeded, he explained.

Lillelund said some startup companies are working on offerings with functionality similar to those of Adtran’s vWLAN offering, but as of now he doesn’t believe any other company can provide the same capabilities.

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