“The MC604 offers secure integration into the Metacom virtual private network (VPN) and from there into the client’s own network,” says Metacom MD Réan van Niekerk. “We call it an ‘edge enabler’ – whatever the data source and wherever it is, the router stands ready at the edge of our network to send that data securely wherever it needs to go.”
HSPA cellular connectivity means the MC604 can be used as a standalone wireless routing device in remote areas, or as backup to an ADSL or Diginet link. Even when Satellite is the primary access medium, GSM may be available as a failover, says Van Niekerk.
“We have built intelligence into the device so that it will always use the most-effective access medium available,” says Van Niekerk. “We can also define more specific rules to optimise your traffic. If an ADSL link goes down and you failover to GSM, for example, we make sure your critical business data gets priority over Facebook.”
The MC604 can be used either with Metacom’s VPN – specifically designed for industrial and financial data that has high security and reliability requirements – or on its own.
“Thousands of small to medium businesses use ADSL connectivity because it’s the most cost effective alternative, but it offers no guarantees,” notes Van Nierkerk. “There can’t be many businesses that haven’t lost productive time due to an ADSL outage. The MC604 will switch over automatically to any available GSM network the moment there’s an ADSL glitch – users probably won’t even notice.”
Even Diginet users need different bearer technologies as backup, Van Nierkerk points out. “People imagine that if they have two Diginet lines they are protected, but if someone digs up the Telkom cables outside the office they’ll lose both lines,” he says. “You should always have a different connectivity solution available.”
Using the MC604 for failover communications needn’t involve paying massive GSM data charges, adds Van Niekerk. “Because the device is programmable, our clients have the freedom to determine their own routing rules for Internet traffic,” he says. “In a retail store network, for instance, EFT (electronic funds transfer) transactions are the one thing that just cannot go down – you lose money during every minute you can’t process card transactions. Email and web browsing can wait – so our retail clients tend to establish routing rules that allow only EFT traffic over the cellular networks.”
The same benefits apply even where GSM network coverage is patchy, expensive or non-existent, says Van Niekerk. “The MC604 can link to any satellite installation, including our own – and the costs are measured in hundreds of rands a month as opposed to thousands.”
Each MC604 Intelligent Router is monitored around the clock at Metacom’s International Operations Centre and can be remotely programmed either by Metacom or directly by the client, says Van Niekerk. “Changes to routing rules or switching between SIM cards can be done easily from anywhere in the world,” he says. “The device also has enough intelligence to be able to reboot itself when necessary.”