Cellular/Wi-Fi convergence wins over some early users

FMC customers say battery issues, quality of WLAN worth watching.

Early products and services that shift voice calls seamlessly between wireless LAN and cellular networks are proving themselves to enterprise users.

Early adopters, including those still in pilot projects, say the handoff between two, different wireless connections is generally unnoticeable and almost always reliable. These convergence capabilities also give mobile phone users at least some of the features offered by the corporate PBX, such as transferring calls or dialing a four-digit extension.

Nevertheless there are two recurring issues: the need for a pervasive WLAN designed with voice in mind, and the fact that the 802.11 radio on these so-called dual-mode mobile phones depletes batteries far more quickly than cellular radios do.

The users interviewed for this story are using two kinds of solutions for what's often called fixed-mobile convergence (FMC). One is a behind-the-firewall FMC server or appliance from a third-party vendor -- from big companies like Siemens and NEC, as well as newer, smaller companies like DiVitas Networks and Agito Networks. The server typically coordinates with a corporate IP PBX and with a client application loaded onto a mobile phone that has cellular and 802.11 radios.

The other convergence solution is a carrier service, using the Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) standard from the Third Generation Partnership Project to shift calls between an unlicensed Wi-Fi WLAN and a GSM carrier's licensed cellular network. In effect, these services shift the FMC server functions to a UMA controller on the carrier's network. In the US, T-Mobile offers a UMA service to residential and business customers.

Wherever it's located, this server works with the client application to detect when a user is moving into and out of range of cellular or Wi-Fi networks. Basically, the server starts a parallel call over the alternate wireless network; when it's secured, the server mixes the audio from the two sessions and drops the first wireless connection.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Cox

Network World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?