Those of you who visit this site regularly know how much I am a fan of FMC or Fixed Mobile Convergence. For those of you less familiar with the term, it’s the alphabet soup way of saying you can make or receive your desk calls on your mobile. I’ve been a fan of this type of solution since I made the prediction that FMC would be the next killer application for enterprise mobility. Admittedly, that was back in January 2008. While there have been many advances since that time in the space, it’s not had the broad adoption I expected to have by now. Maybe that will change with today’s news.
While our friends in Waterloo have had the BlackBerry Mobile Voice System for a while now, it frankly had not had the broadest adoption. The annoucement with T-Mobile may help change that. What I do find interesting is that RIM has partnered with T-Mobile on this venture…the reason being that T-Mobile is not known historically in the US as being the “enterprise” mobile provider. That term has been typically saved for Verizon, AT&T and Sprint.
So why T-Mobile? Well, simply because they are the ones who have arguably the most experience in providing mobile voice over WiFi through its HotSpot @ Home service. And here’s the interesting question. In order to provide this service, the consumer solution requires you use a specially designed wireless router…basically a router with Quality of Service (QoS) enabled. How will this work with corporate WLAN solutions from companies like Cisco, Aruba, Siemens, Motorola or any other WLAN solution provider.
The other question that comes to mind is how they are going to be able to handle a soft hand-off – not from the PBX to the device, but rather making the transition in real time from WWAN to WLAN and vice versa. I’ve only seen one company be able to do that consistently. I think, in fact, this is one of the most important features of true FMC because I can’t tell you how annoying it is to have to say “Hey hold on, can I call you back?”.
So the reality is, not much has been said yet about this new offer and how it’s going to be sold (not the price, but who’s the sales team lead?). I’m also curious to understand how this is going to play out from a systems integration perspective…as well as how the wireline carriers will react to this. Don’t forget, the more people use voice over WiFi, the greater the impact it will have on the wireline carrier. I also love how T-Mobile is now charging companies for this when this actually reduces the strain they place on the wireless network.
The last question I have is about what happens after FMC? That’s mobile Unified Communications or mobile UC. That includes IM, presence, integrated voicemail in your inbox, etc. I’ll be excited to see some news eventually on that front.