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Avaya Rolls Out Dual-Mode App For Nokia Smartphones

One-X Mobile Dual-Mode will allow people to move seamlessly between cellular and Wi-Fi networks without losing a call.

Avaya, an Internet protocol telephony provider, on Monday rolled out a dual-mode application designed to hand off calls between corporate Wi-Fi networks and cellular networks on Nokia Eseries business smartphones.

One-X Mobile Dual-Mode combines Avaya's IP-based applications with Wi-Fi capability built into Nokia Eseries smartphones, which include the Nokia E60, E61, and E70 models. With one-X mobile, a person can start a phone conversation in his or her car (talking over a cellular network) and continue the conversation inside his or her work building (in a Wi-Fi building) without dropping the call.

"We're seeing a lot more devices that now have Wi-Fi, particularly business devices for connection to data. By offering [dual-mode] capability, we can get IP telephony onto business phones," Geoffrey Baird, VP and general manager of the appliances, mobile, and small systems division at Avaya, told InformationWeek.

George Washington University deployed Avaya's dual-mode applications to save money on wireless calls. Instead of being charged by the minute to use a cellular network, university employees use the existing Wi-Fi network to make calls when they're on campus. "The biggest benefit is the cost savings we'll see once we fully roll this out," said Bret Jones, managing director of technology operations and engineering at George Washington University, in an interview.

Additionally, the university's engineers and technicians, who move around buildings all the time, are able to make mobile voice-over-IP calls in areas where cellular coverage is poor. Jones said, "In some buildings, there is no cellular service, but we do have Wi-Fi service. Why not take advantage of that?"

One-X Mobile is built into Avaya's Communications Manager, the company's intelligent call processing software. The software can be downloaded from Avaya's Web site and installed on a Nokia smartphone wirelessly or through a PC cable.

One-X Mobile also pairs a smartphone with a person's desk phone, enabling one-number access. That means when a person's desk phone rings, his or her smartphone also rings, ensuring that he or she doesn't miss an important phone call.

Avaya has done extensive work with Nokia over the past three years to create software that would work well on its smartphones. "The software is different for every phone manufacturer," Avaya's Baird said. One-X Mobile Dual-Mode is not available on other smartphones yet, although Avaya plans to change that soon.

Expect additional capabilities like visual voice mail to come in future versions as well, once Avaya delivers new products from its recent acquisition of Traverse Networks, a provider of unified communications technologies, said Baird.

Avaya has the right idea by catering to the growing needs of mobile workers, but it's venturing into a tough market where cellular carriers have tight control. Major carriers in the United States have been reluctant to introduce Wi-Fi capable phones for the same reason Avaya is promoting one-X Mobile Dual-Mode -- they cut into cellular revenues. There are signs that carriers are slowly warming up to Wi-Fi. However, other change is necessary. Research In Motion's BlackBerry is still the most popular business smartphone in the U.S., but it doesn't come equipped with Wi-Fi.

There's yet another issue with dual-mode. Businesses need to have extensive Wi-Fi networks, or in this context, wireless local area networks (WLANs), to enable dual-mode. Otherwise users will experience spotty coverage like they do with Wi-Fi hot-spots in parks and coffee shops. George Washington University's Jones said, "To say that we've fully deployed dual-mode, we need to have ubiquitous Wi-Fi everywhere around the campus, and we're still working on that."

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