Cisco To Link Two-Way Radios With IP Networks

IP communications

Cisco's IP Interoperability and Collaboration Systems (IPICS) technology essentially connects UHF, VHF, push-to-talk and legacy military radio networks using VoIP, said Charles Giancarlo, chief development officer at Cisco, during a launch event in New York.

In addition to communicating with each other, radio users can also tie to a variety of IP applications, including voice, video and data, as well as traditional phones and IP-based clients such as IP phones and IM clients, he said.

"We can bring in the information that's contextual to the event at hand," Giancarlo said.

The result should be improved first-response efforts to a variety of emergencies, from hurricanes to bank robberies, he said.

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"There would be fewer balls dropped, fewer misunderstandings taking place on the ground," Giancarlo said, of the technology's possible implications.

Public sector deployments will likely account for 30 percent to 40 percent of the market for IPICS. Other potential customers include a those in the transportation, petroleum and hospital markets, he said.

Currently in early field trials with about a dozen customers, the IPICS products form the basis of a new emerging technology focus for Cisco -- continuing its strategy to build more intelligence into network infrastructure, Giancarlo said. Clients testing the technology include the city of Honolulu, Sprint Nextel and Maher Terminals, a shipping terminal operator in the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Cisco plans to open the technology to a small group of channel partners at the outset and should have approximately one dozen solution providers working with the technology by next year, Giancarlo said.

Smaller regional VARs and integrators are likely to have a play in this market, particularly with public sector clients, he said.

Cisco's IPICS lineup, scheduled for availability over the next six to 12 months, comprises hardware and software that include a router that acts as a gateway between the radio frequencies and IP, a "soft radio" that runs on a PC and a management application to enable dispatchers to open communications between multiple groups.

Pricing has not yet been announced.