Enterprise Options for Fixed Mobile Convergence and Mobile UC

By Michael F. Finneran, dBrn Associates, Inc.
Published May 2009, Posted May 2009




One of the most exciting developments to come about from the new generation of wireless communications technologies is the idea of fixed-mobile convergence. Fixed-mobile convergence or FMC describes the ability to integrate cellular and private network services allowing calls to be transparently handed off between them. While FMC is often portrayed as a mechanism to hand off calls between Wi-Fi-based wireless LANs and cellular services, in reality the “fixed” element in FMC can be any private network, wired or wireless.


It is no secret that mobile cellular telephone service has revolutionized the way that people communicate. Millions of consumers have chosen to do without wired telephone service for their personal use, and for many business people, their cellular number has become their primary number. For enterprise users who must rely on both a wired office phone and cellular service, the ultimate combination would be a service that would allow them to be reached on a single number regardless of where they were located, passed calls transparently between cellular and any other wired or wireless networks with no interruption in the connection, and extended all of the functionality of the wired environment to the mobile.


Many have assumed that providing this type of service would require that the cellular carriers fully embrace the concept and integrate non-cellular technologies with their services. In particular, the cellular carriers would have to treat those other networks like additional cells and handoff calls to/from them in the same way they pass calls between base stations within their own networks. The larger US cellular carriers have not embraced FMC for enterprise customers, though the smaller national carriers, Sprint and T-Mobile , have introduced FMC services in some form. In the meantime, manufacturers of business telephone equipment and equipment adjuncts have developed a number of solutions that deliver many of the capabilities of FMC in spite of the cellular carriers’ reluctance.


In this paper we will provide a structure for understanding and evaluating the various enterprise- and carrier-based FMC solutions that have been introduced. We will begin by looking at the overall benefits that can be derived from an FMC solution, and then describe and categorize the various FMC products and services. In each case we will examine the configuration and operation of the solution, and identify the benefits it can provide. The goal is not to “sell” any particular implementation, but rather to provide enterprise users with a background and a level of understanding they can use in evaluating solutions that fit their particular needs.


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