12 October 2003
"A few years from now always-on broadband mobile access to applications which today can only be accessed from a fixed workplace will be a matter of course," says Carsten Schloter as he explains his vision of the future. "To achieve this, we will require high-performance networks like UMTS and PWLAN and pertinent devices such as PC cards that support the new technologies." Special products are also needed so that the complexity of the technology is not noticeable to the customer, says Mr Schloter. What is important is that wherever the customer is located the fastest access technology available at that location is selected automatically and offered at a uniform tariff. "Such a solution also requires a single logon and convenient and seamless handover between networks: seamless handover during changeover from one technology to another means there is no interruption in the connection. At the same time maximum security must be guaranteed at all times," says Mr Schloter. He cites a sample package price for usage of GPRS, UMTS and PWLAN of Euro 75 a month or Euro 2.50 a day.
Swisscom will unveil a number of world firsts at ITU Telecom World 2003 that will bring the company's vision ever closer to realisation. To this end, Swisscom and Microsoft have entered into a joint partnership to develop mobile data solutions for business customers. The primary goal is to be able to offer users mobile, Windows-based devices that simplify access to Swisscom's Hotspots across Europe. This will involve exploiting the technical possibilities of the well-known .NET platforms of Microsoft and the wireless networks of Swisscom, both of which ideally complement one another. Swisscom will become a Microsoft partner in Europe for the launch of new PWLAN functionalities in Microsoft Windows. Commenting on this, Jens Alder, Swisscom CEO: "Thanks to this cooperation Swisscom will become the first network operator in Europe to offer simple and very secure PWLAN access over Windows XP."
Together with Microsoft, Swisscom Mobile has developed the new "Hotspot Locator" so that customers can locate the nearest PWLAN Hotspot in Switzerland quickly and simply. Effective immediately, the Web-based application can be accessed over the Internet at www.swisscom-mobile.ch/pwlan as well as by mobile phone (via XML or WAP) or PDA.
The long-term aim of the partnership with Microsoft is to provide transparent support of all transmission technologies deployed directly via the operating system.
Also in the hardware area new developments will be needed in order to integrate the various technologies and to facilitate access for customers. At Telecom 2003, Swisscom Mobile will announce the joint development with the Belgium company Option of an integrated PC card that will support GPRS, PWLAN and UMTS technologies. No such cards exist as yet but will be essential in order to allow seamless use of all technologies by the customer. Mobile devices will also require software that ensures seamless interoperability between the various technologies. Here Swisscom has developed its own proprietary software called Sesam which allows seamless handover between UMTS and PWLAN; this will also be presented at the exhibition. This world first will be demonstrated live on the Swisscom stand on UMTS und PWLAN networks.
According to Jens Alder, Swisscom recognised the potential of PWLAN technology some years ago and responded by sounding out the market for future business opportunities early on. About a year ago, the decision was taken to systematically build up activities at European level. This led to the creation of a venture company, Swisscom Eurospot.
According to the company's CEO Frédéric Gastaldo, Swisscom Eurospot is the largest pan-European PWLAN provider to offer business travellers wireless broadband Internet access at Hotspots in hotels, conference centres and airports in a large number of countries across Europe. Swisscom Eurospot operates around 1,300 proprietary Hotspots under contract in France, Italy, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain. In addition, Swisscom Eurospot offers roaming services in conjunction with Swisscom Mobile and Telia, providing access to the 850 or so Hotspots operated by these partners.
PWLAN also easy to use abroad - UMTS network construction on schedule
In Switzerland Swisscom Mobile already operates some 350 Hotspots and is continuously expanding its Public Wireless LAN service. For Swisscom Mobile subscription customers, accessing the Hotspots of roaming partners abroad is as easy as in Switzerland: the customer simply enters his mobile phone number and within seconds receives an SMS containing his password. Calling costs are charged in a clear and transparent manner to his Swisscom Mobile bill. A complete and up-to-date list of Hotspots is available on the Internet.
In Switzerland, construction of the UMTS network is on schedule, with over 500 base stations installed to date. Today, Swisscom Mobile's UTMS network already provides coverage for over 50% of the Swiss population and is hence in line with regulatory requirements. With the help of selected users, its own employees and employees of business partners, Swisscom Mobile is in the process of optimising the UMTS network. Further presentations by Swisscom Mobile at Telecom 2003 include UMTS applications such as video telephony and streaming.
Using the example of the Geneva-based rescue organisation SOS Médecins, Swisscom Mobile will demonstrate the crucial role that modern communications can play in emergency situations. Rapid access to comprehensive patient and organisation data can help to save lives. Doctors delivering first-aid are equipped with mobile computers that allow them to directly access the organisation's intranet. Encrypted transmission also ensures confidentiality of the data at all times. The core of the solution is the mobile access to a virtual private network (VPN) of SOS Médecins.
The deployment of modern broadband technologies makes mobile data communications faster and simpler, and as users become increasingly mobile they also become more productive and efficient. The Swisscom Wireless Service Center on Stand 7017 offers a wide range of mobile services and products. Visitors can purchase or rent mobile phones, WLAN cards, SIM cards and accessories, have their WLAN devices configured and find out more about PWLAN.
Swisscom Innovations is engaged in the development of solutions that enable interaction that is more closely tailored to human requirements and hence more natural. Multimodal services combine the advantages of a graphical user interface with voice-activated elements and so move a step closer to facilitating natural communications behaviour - speaking, seeing, hearing, touching. Swisscom Innovations will showcase two multimodal applications: access to broadband services via Windows XP Tablet PC and a city guide on a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA).
Broadband services are delivered to the home over the telephone cable. Video streaming using the very latest compression techniques already enables television-quality broadband transmission at speeds of 1 Mbit/s. Swisscom Innovations will demonstrate the possibilities offered by today's ADSL broadband technology: live television with an electronic programme guide and video-on-demand.
Geneva, 12 October 2003