Orange has unveiled plans to advance its Wi-Fi infrastructure in France by extending its current total of 3,000 hotspots to 4,500 by the end of 2004.
The mobile operator will use so-called zero configuration networking technology included in Cisco's Mobile Exchange architecture, which allows users to log on to Wi-Fi networks directly without any changes to the set-up of their computers.
Orange has forged deals to provide pre-paid wireless local area network (Lan) services in Air France business lounges and Accor hotels. Around 55 new Wi-Fi hotspots with up to 25 access points are being introduced each week.
The company has also been offering a post-pay wireless Lan service to its two million corporate customers since April, which is available by dialing #125# from mobile phones to obtain Wi-Fi connection codes.
The option to have payments added to a mobile phone bill will be extended to contract-based consumers among Orange's 10 million-strong customer base this month, the operator promised.
Orange uses Cisco Access Registrar server, the Cisco Mobile Exchange component enabling authentication, authorisation and accounting services to manage this option.
"We have technology which is fully scalable and makes it easy for customers to use our services and for us to roll out new ones. This will be key to the business traveller," said Christophe Naulleau, Wi-Fi programme director at Orange, in a statement.
Massimo Migliuolo, vice president of mobile sales worldwide at Cisco, added in a statement: "In terms of its size and use of leading-edge technology, Orange's Wi-Fi project is one of the most advanced in the world."
Orange is deploying redundant Cisco Service Selection Gateway, Subscriber Edge Services Manager and Cisco Content Services Gateway platforms, along with Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series switches.
Cisco Catalyst 2900 or 3500 Series platforms provide switching capability at the hotspots, while Cisco 1700 Series modular access routers connect Cisco Aironet wireless access points to the DSL network.
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