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Wireless lands at European airports

Cisco Systems puts wireless LANs into lounges at 19 airports across Europe, targeting business travelers with wireless cards in their laptops or handhelds.

Mobile
Network giant Cisco Systems is installing Aironet wireless LANs into lounges at 19 airports across Europe, targeting business travelers with wireless cards in their laptops or personal digital assistants.

The announcement includes various deals with different telecommunications companies and airports, made under the banner of Cisco Mobile Office, a campaign for wireless LANs (local area networks). The airport deals are at different stages, from a fully fledged paid-for service run by wireless provider Mobynet at Turkey's Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, where the wireless LAN was included when the airport was designed in 1999, to others that are still free trials.

Copenhagen Airport, which manages its own wireless service, is more limited, converting a three base-station network from a free service to a commercial one in February.

"We are seeing a wave of transition from free services to a paid environment," said Martin Cook from Cisco's solutions consulting and business development division. "Some services are paid for with a scratch card (similar to a mobile phone top-up card), some have credit card authorization, while others are subscription services. In future, we will see hard launches, going directly to paid-for services."

The announcement, which follows BT's announcement of its Openzone, underlines the increasing energy being devoted to building wireless LANs. In the United States, providers such as VoiceStream Wireless are putting wireless LANs into airport lounges and other public places, while in Europe, Megabeam is getting licenses for similar sites.

Cisco is bundling Aironet with its long range Ethernet, Building Broadband Service Manager and virtual private network technology to provide a single source for as much of the equipment as possible.

ZDNet U.K.'s Peter Judge reported from London.

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