There is a lot of debate over whether city-wide WiFi, or WiMAX, will replace or cannibalize high speed cellular networks. Telecoms and mobile handset makers talk about an era of seamless connectivity and painless switching between cellular and WiFi networks. Never mind the inherent conflicts with the harsh realities of their business. And while they talk, debate and pontificate, the real wireless-wireline convergence is happening inside the enterprise, thanks mostly to the slow spreading tentacles of IP telephony.
This is a trend which is quite likely to gain momentum. One of the start-ups betting on this trend is DiVitas, a Mountain View-based company that recently raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Menlo Ventures. Previous investors like Clearstone Venture Partners also invested in this round. The company has raised a total of $23 million so far. DiVitas’ technology gives a business the ability to cut costs on wireless services, by switching company cell phones onto the corporate wireless network while inside the office, and to the cellular network when outside. That also includes access to all of the company’s business applications.
DiVitas CEO Vivek Khuller says the technology can be used over any carrier and any WLAN hardware. Cell phone manufacturers could be really interested in this technology as a way to directly reach business customers, though right now only eight handsets are compatible with the technology. The company is currently shipping its products to corporations for beta testing.
DiVitas might be a young gun slinger in the space, but it will also have to watch out for Waterloo, Ontario-based Research In Motion, more known for its Blackberry devices. The company has been making quiet moves, including its acquisition of Ascendant Systems, that allows it to become a big player in the enterprise convergence market.
While we are not dismissive of the telco convergence the current state IP Multimedia Systems doesn’t really instill confidence in the market just as yet. Some startups, such as BridgePort Networks have done a good job of lining up the corners of this extremely complicated jigsaw puzzle, but it will be a while before we all see the upside of their work.