IT struggles to close the mobile phone gap

Fixed-mobile convergence not following path many thought it would

Fayetteville State University in North Carolina has gone a step further in that integration, deploying RIM's BlackBerry Voice Mobility System, based on the 2006 Ascendent Systems acquisition. The VMS client/server software links the BlackBerry Enterprise Server with a company's PBX, without any major infrastructure changes. Users get a single corporate number that can ring on all their phones (the BlackBerry, other mobile phone, desk phone, office phone at home). About 50 users have it and more want it, says Joseph Vittorelli, FSU's director of systems and infrastructure.

"For us, it's about productivity," he says. "I have a 100-acre campus and I'm rarely at my desk. [With VMS] I take care of a lot of business walking from building to building." In the past, his desk phone voice mail typically would have 20 to 30 messages daily. Today, it's rare to have more than two or three.

Still another variant is a hosted "local-area" private cellular service, such as that offered by Strata8, via its own licensed spectrum in the 1900MHz band. The company sets up a base station on your site and integrates the service with your PBX, while you select from a growing set of CDMA mobile phones and pay US$30 per month per subscriber. Interestingly, Strata8 had announced a deal to offer customers an FMC solution based on products from Tango Networks. But Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing Andrew Wilson says there has been little activity or interest in Wi-Fi/cellular convergence among Strata8 customers.

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