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Telenor goes wireless in a big way

Telenor goes wireless in a big way

Telenor, a telecommunications company headquartered in Fornebu, Norway, wanted a wireless local area network (WLAN) to increase employee productivity and to showcase the technology to potential customers and partners.

A year after the company began the project, it has realized its aspirations, sporting the largest secure WLAN in Europe, supporting 8,000 users in its newly constructed 411,000-square foot headquarters.

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According to Morten Monrad, business development manager, Cisco Systems, Oslo, Norway, the complete network infrastructure was designed and delivered by a team of specialists from Telenor and Cisco.

The WLAN network allows Telenor employees and people at partner companies to move freely about the newly constructed headquarters campus while maintaining secure network connectivity.

Telenor employees who will be able to access the network from most areas of the campus, Monrad said.

Stein Andre Larner, wireless technology product manager for Telenor, said the company wanted to implement the first secure wireless LAN campus in Europe while also offering the opportunity to provide guest access.

"This solution was developed to solve the issues addressed to the use of WLAN such as security and guest access," said Larner.

Stan Schatt, vice president and research leader at Giga Information Group, says coupling a VPN with a WLAN is a good idea.

"It certainly gives you authentication and encryption, a VPN goes a long way towards giving you security," said Schatt.

Telenor is seeking to increase worker productivity and flexibility with the network as well. Larner estimates employees will gain 10 hours a month in productivity.

"The cost per user is 65 euros (about $57), if you estimate the value of your employee greater than 6.50 euros per hour, the investment is profitable," said Larner.

In other words, it costs Telenor 65 euros per employee on the network, but if those employees generate more than 6.50 euros per hour than Telenor believes it will realize a return on its investment.

There were some obstacles that had to be overcome during the implementation, said Monrad.

"One key challenge was to perform detailed WLAN radio planning in a building not yet complete with inside walls, furniture, equipment and people," he said.

Telenor had crews crawling all over the partially constructed building with radio sensors in order to plan the best placement of the antennas for the wireless network.

Monrad said this was challenging because copy rooms full of copy machines and stocks of copy paper for example, can cause radio interference, resulting in poor network performance in certain areas. These issues were resolved by adopting a flexible design process in which the radio coverage plan was reevaluated after the building was complete with people and equipment, Monrad said.

Multiple vendors competed for the project, and Larner says Cisco got the job because of its experience and market knowledge. Telenor did not disclose the cost of the year-long project.

Telenor believes that the implementation will give it an advantage over its competitors because the company now has a commercialized solution that will generate its own revenue streams, Larner said.

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