'Retail Has Been a Big Adopter of Wireless Tech'

by Sharon Lobo    Nov 03, 2009

In India, how has the adoption of wireless technology been so far? How does Cisco plan to tap this market?

In India, the mobility penetration is at an all-time high. The reason being mobility is multimodality, as it is available through various networks such as GSM, Wi-Fi etc. I see a huge growth opportunity in rural areas if urban services are provided to the rural population. For instance, if a farmer can get access to the latest fair price for his product, he can avoid losses, a businessman can use online banking to carry out his daily financial transactions, a student can access information at his fingertips.

One of Cisco’s corporate responsibilities is to help build the infrastructure in rural India, which is also a priority for the major Indian telecom operators. Therefore we constantly engage with these telcos to find the right business model, such as a telco setting up kiosks in rural areas to provide Internet access to the villagers or a village entrepreneur running a kiosk and people use the services can pay on hourly basis.

What is the value proposition Cisco gives to its customers as compared to its competitors?

When you buy a Cisco product, you buy more than more than one product or one technology. For example, if you only want to deploy a pure a wireless network then you would go in for something that is cost-effective and to easy to deploy, it is possible you might not find Cisco as the right vendor. However, if you want to deploy multiple technologies with value-added services and with a very good reliability built into your network then you would seriously consider Cisco as your vendor. Also, if you already have a wired network and want to extend it into wireless capability then, too, you would want to go with Cisco. The reason being, Cisco provides a seamless integration of wired and wireless network. This is a big value proposition Cisco gives to its customers.

Though Cisco’s products come at a premium, we manage to stay competitive because we provide both quality and reliability in our products as well as in our services. For example, if our engineering team gets a call from our customers regarding any issue they face with our product – even if it’s a configuration error on the customer’s part – we immediately get down to resolve the issue. Apart from providing quality and reliability, Cisco is also very much active in the Wi-Fi alliance. For instance, we promoted the 802.11n in the Wi-Fi alliance, which was ratified recently, and our products did not require any hardware or software changes to support this standard.

Which are the industry verticals where you see growth of wireless technology taking place?

Education is one vertical where I see a tremendous growth of wireless taking place, the reason being students are the first ones to adopt newer technologies. Healthcare is another vertical where adoption of wireless is set to grow, as it can help doctors in various departments of a hospital access a patient’s report wirelessly. Retail has been a big adopter of wireless technologies, as it enables them to replenish goods as and when required, so they do not over-stock or under-stock any product.

Apart from these verticals, other verticals where adoption of wireless is set to grow are financial institutions, telecom service providers and the IT industry.

The major concern of deploying a wireless network is security. What solutions does Cisco provide to tackle this issue?

Currently, the WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) and WPA2 protocols are being used in a Wi-Fi network, which are much stronger security protocols than the previously used WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy). Apart from these, Cisco also has other intrusion prevention algorithms, which are included as a part of our unified communication architecture.