Cisco Partners With CMG Wireless On Unified Messaging Service

Cisco Systems made a move toward expanding the wireless footprint for its uOne unified communications offering Wednesday when it revealed a partnership with CMG Wireless Data Solutions to provide unified messaging to wireless carriers around the world. Unified messaging services let users access voice mail, E-mail, and faxes from a single location on any device. Financial terms of the partnership were not divulged.

Cisco says the relationship with CMG, the messaging arm of European IT services firm CMG plc, will let it tap into a customer base that represents 55% of the market for text-based short-message services. Dick Hyatt, director of marketing for Cisco's Internet communications software group, says a Cisco/CMG unified messaging product will be available in the second quarter of this year, followed by an as-yet-unscheduled rollout of additional uOne products, including voice, Web content access, and transaction services. Aside from Cisco's desire to create improved customer "stickiness" for wireless carriers, Hyatt put the relationship in very simple terms: "They're a channel for us."

CMG, meanwhile, says Cisco's voice-over-IP technologies will allow it to enhance its message service by letting users receive E-mails via voice-over mobile devices. Product manager Peter Broekroeloss says that when CMG began looking to add voice capabilities to its messaging service, choosing a partner was a simple matter. "Cisco has a lot of experience in the voice-over-IP world," Broekroeloss says. He says that Cisco's technology will let CMG roll out services such as voice-based browsing for mobile E-mail access and multimedia messaging at a later date.

Art Williams, an analyst with Giga Information Group, says the partnership is a logical move for Cisco. Williams describes the market for unified messaging services as World War III, with the war to be fought primarily by Cisco and Nortel Networks Corp. in the next five years. Williams says that whether it's acquiring companies or merely access to customers, Cisco typically acts decisively when fighting such battles. "Cisco has this strategy," Williams says. "When they want something new, they don't scratch their heads, they go shopping."

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