Cisco adds IP multiplexing to mobile satellite package

Using VoIP via satellite links can have bandwidth issues, but Cisco today said it's introducing an IP multiplexing technology for its Cisco Mobile Ready Net package that dramatically improves the number of IP-based calls on a satellite link.

Used by the military and others who need to quickly set up an ad hoc network, Cisco Mobile Ready Net is based on the Cisco 5900 Series Embedded Services Routers, which includes the 5940 ESR and 5915 ESR. However, VoIP and satellite links aren't necessarily an easy fit, said Cisco product managers Michael Luken and Ken Kauffmann. But Cisco today said it's come up with a new Cisco IP multiplexing capability that tackles this problem. The IP mux feature has been added as an update to the operating system used in the 5915 ESR and the 5940 ESR, called the IOS GC train, v. 15.2(2). The advantage of this muxing link optimization feature is it can deliver up to a 20 to 1 increase in calls, says solutions product manager Kauffmann.

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"This allows you to have more phone calls, but also allows other applications to make use of additional packets per seconds," said Kauffmann.

He noted customers are typically using satellite modems for uplink and downlink measured at 1800 to 2000 packets per second. It's not something that's efficient for VoIP traffic and using IPSec encryption for security will almost double the size of the traffic, he points out.

But with the IP multiplexing capability added to the 5915 ESR and 5940 ESR, you could take 20 IP-based phone calls via satellite and stay IPSec-encrypted to gain a 20-to-1 advantage in satellite bandwidth. And there would be room for other uses, such as database applications, he said.

Not only is the call-volume traffic greatly increased, but tests are showing that the CPU usage in the Cisco ESR routers is greatly improved as well, he said. Cisco believes the IP multiplexing capability is so useful, it may eventually be added to other Cisco router lines as well to be used in situations that are not satellite-based.

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG publication and website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security.

Read more about lans and routers in Network World's LANs & Routers section.

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