Opportunity, but no

Corporate enterprises may only be taking baby steps towards fixed-mobile convergence (FMC), but that isn’t stopping Siemens from delivering a product to bridge office, cellular and wireless networks.

The company announced HiPath MobileConnect, which includes an appliance that resides between the enterprise IP communications server and WLAN, along with a software client that resides in the dualmode handset and works with the MobileConnect device.

The idea is that the appliance will monitor calls made on dual-mode devices, then identify and select the best available network for the call. The software then manages the “handover” between a LAN and a cellular one.

Siemens has designed HiPath MobileConnect to interoperate with virtually any wireless LAN equipment based on session initiation protocol (SIP) and dual-mode handset.

This is an important differentiator, according to the company’s vice-president of product planning Luc Roy, because some products require compatibility with specific private branch exchange (PBXs) of various telecommunications providers.

“Most enterprise customers don’t want to cede the control of their PBX, mainly because unified communications is becoming so strategic,” he said. “There’s been this clash between the carrier and enterprise perspective.”

So far, Siemens has noticed interest in FMC from the health-care sector, retail and any other verticals where missed calls pose the risk of lost business opportunities. That said, Siemens is not necessarily expecting a mass rush to make the transition to FMC, he added.

“A lot of IT groups don’t really want to get into it. They know it’s a little early,” he admitted. “The general customers or even the early adopters, they will spend this year getting ready to do FMC.”

Those early adopters first have to make sure they have a SIP-enabled PBX, Roy said, even if it’s just a gateway. They also must be able to support roaming from wireless LANs to cellular networks.

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