Fixed mobile convergence, the merger of wired and wireless networks, is a topic that always seems to top the list of telecom trends every year. T-Mobile made the topic interesting last year when it started a service for consumers in the Seattle area, and the WSJ even recently picked up the topic looking at mostly consumer offerings (subscription).
But businesses are really the ones that are closely examining FMC choices, as the technology can save them money and make their workers more productive — well, they hope. Here’s three new choices in the enterprise FMC arena from Siemens, DiVitas Networks and Tango Networks:
Siemens: Today Siemens says it will start selling a product called HiPath MobileConnect to enterprises, which enables users to roam between cellular and wireless LAN networks. The SIP-based solution needs an appliance in the enterprise network and a client on dual-mode handsets. The product will start shipping in April and costs anywhere between $6,000 (for 10 users) and $50,000 depending on how many employees are using the service. The carrier isn’t involved, and the solution only works over dual-mode select handsets (works with Nokia E 60 series).
DiVitas Networks: Mountain View-based startup Divitas, which is backed by $23 million from Menlo Ventures and Clearstone Venture Partners, started making its product widely available last week. Like Siemens the product consists of an appliance and a client handset. Divitas says it product can be used over not only dual-mode handsets but also cellular-only smart phones, and Wi-Fi-only phones. The setup for 10 users starts at $5,495. The carrier isn’t involved here either.
Tango Networks: Unlike the offerings above Tango Networks wants to get the carrier involved in part of the deal. That has brought them some large backers from the traditional telecom world. The company based out of Richardson, Texas said earlier this month it has raised $25 million in a series A from investors like Motorola and Nortel. There is no handset client software, and the company offers a network-based solution.
Companies could always just wait for carriers to upgrade their networks for FMC, or look at any of the UMA-based solutions with the carriers. But why wait. ABI says by 2011 capital expenditure on FMC infrastructure will exceed $450 million by 2011, and some 250 million users will be using converged fixed-mobile networks and access points.