Mobile carriers have taken the hint that they need to expand services to better appeal to enterprise customers, as a recent report from Infonetics Research concludes that 80% of carriers plan to offer fixed-mobile convergence plans to corporations by April 2008 at the risk of traffic falling off their network. (FMC involves merging office voice and data services with your handheld – a phone call on a single line can be answered from either office or cellphone.) That being said, enterprise VoIP will supposedly become more and more supported, and with Wi-Fi-enabled BlackBerrys pulling in to harbour, carriers don’t have much choice but to follow suit. Now, if the BlackBerry had session initiation protocol supported, RIM could have a solid foothold to get in on the ever-growing PBX phone integration business that carriers are moving towards. This isn’t to say the UMA handoff that the 8820 uses right now doesn’t have a place in new IP multimedia subsystems, but working with SIP sure would open up some possibilities.
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Hot off the presses, we’ve got news that the BlackBerry 8820 is en route, packing delicious Wi-Fi connectivity. Wi-Fi 802.11 a, b and g will all be supported, as documented in the FCC patent last week, and not only for data. Generic Access Networking (a.k.a. UMA) will allow for seamless dual-mode calling while in a Wi-Fi hotspot. Although that’s the big feature, besides which the device is largely an 8800, the new BlackBerry will also also be bringing a few other goodies. For one, it will support microSDHC memory cards, meaning up to 32GB of storage capacity. We looked at the 8 GB cards that are in the works from Samsung not too long ago. No 3G just yet, still quad-band GSM/GPRS and EDGE. GPS is in there too, and RIM also points out AZERTY and QWERTZ keypad availability, pointing to an early launch in both France and Germany. In fact, RIM’s handset index lists France as the only European country confirmed to carry the 8820 so far.
Informa Telecoms & Media is citing the distinct lack of global standards for the fixed-mobile market are the biggest hurdle companies have to overcome in order to tap into the expanding business.
Uncertainty remains on the technological evolution toward converged networks, [Senior Analyst Paul Merry] concludes. IMS was lauded as the solution that would provide fully standardised convergent capabilities but the timescale and cost of implementation has caused increasing concern within the operator fraternity. Interim solutions have been suggested such as UMA and latterly femtocell’s which solve the problems of a lack of dual-mode handsets, but such solutions do not provide the type of rich IP-orientated service envisaged by FMC. … “Developing FMC to its full potential will be a sizeable challenge requiring financial and intellectual investment as well as a discarding of vested interests” Merry concludes. “Convergence is the purest form of standardisation and requires that all parties submit to the common aim, he adds”.
ITM’s report also suggests that we’ll be seeing 120 million converged devices by 2012. The majority of those are supposedly going to be in the hands of consumers, which butts heads with a previous study that predicted 82 million of FMC devices will be in corporate hands by 2011. When it comes to numbers, these forecasts have to be taken with a grain of salt.