A proprietary alternative to an upcoming wireless mobility standard has gone on trial in several European cities.

Allied Telesyn is testing the Japanese technology in German and Scandinavia. It enables wireless users to move seamlessly from one access point to another, even if the user is travelling at high speeds, such as on a train.

"We see a market in Europe for Internet service providers, city carriers, enterprises and others that are interested in a mobile IP solution but want to protect their investments in current 802.11a, b and g systems," said Marcus Otto, a director at Allied Telesyn.

The mobile IP system uses proprietary Layer 3 roaming technology, and allows for the handover of IP connections in wireless networks similar to voice and data networks. It is being tested in the Hong Kong subway and on a high-speed train route in Singapore. "Our technology can hand over connections in objects traveling at speeds up to 300 kilometers per hour," Otto said.

The mobile IP system is wireless access-technology neutral, according to Otto, and can work with all flavours of wireless access technology based on the IEEE 802.11 standard.

The technology is likely to clash however with the planned IEEE 802.20 standard for mobility in wireless networks. It is designed to support connections up to 1.5Mbit/s in devices moving at 120 kilometers per hour.

"We are focusing our efforts on operators, enterprises and organisations that have already installed systems based on the 802.11a, b and g standards," said Otto. "There is a huge installed base of 802.11 equipment in Europe, and companies shouldn't have to throw away this investment if they're interested in adding mobility to their service."

Another IEEE standard could also become a competitor: 802.16 - better known as WiMax. Although WiMax base stations have greater range than present 802.11 systems, and thus avoid hand-over issues in many cases, spectrum for WiMax will be licensed for a fee, which could prevent many smaller Wi-Fi operators from investing in it, Otto said.