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Swisscom hot-spot deal takes Colubris higher

Colubris will supply the Swiss carrier's European network of Wi-Fi hot spots with gear in a multimillion-dollar deal that puts it in the running with big players like Cisco.

Colubris Networks is expected to announce on Monday a multiyear, multimillion-dollar Wi-Fi equipment deal with Switzerland's national telecommunications carrier, Swisscom Group.

Under the deal, Colubris will provide wireless local area network (LAN) access equipment to the carrier's Swisscom Eurospot subsidiary, the largest pan-European hot-spot provider of high-speed Internet access in public areas. Hot-spot companies typically target business travelers with service in venues such as hotels, train stations and airports.

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"It's a huge deal. It's probably worth $5 million to $6 million," said Abner Germanow, a wireless LAN analyst at research firm IDC. "You don't do deals this big without running into the big players like Cisco (Systems) or Proxim."

Colubris executives declined to discuss the terms of the deal, other than to note that it places Swisscom among the Waltham, Mass.-based company's top 10 customer accounts.

Although the deal was struck back in September, and Colubris has already installed more than 12,000 Wi-Fi networking devices in Swisscom Eurospot hot spots, the company did not want to publicly disclose the deal until it had passed the 10,000 unit shipment milestone, Colubris CEO Barry Fougere said.

Colubris' public-access CN3000 controller devices are used in the more than 1,900 hot spots Swisscom Eurospot operates in France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain and Portugal. The device is designed to improve Wi-Fi coverage for Swisscom's wireless LAN equipment in larger hot spots.

"A businessperson who is moving through Europe with a cell phone wants it to work seamlessly, no matter which country they are in. Eurospot wants to do the same thing with hot spots," Fougere said.