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Analyst Take: Prepare For Dual-Mode Smartphones

Benefits range from improved voice and data transmission coverage to lower costs.

Sean Ginevan

July 20, 2007

2 Min Read

To-Do List

Develop a mobility policy that includes laptops, cell phones, smartphones, and other on-the-go technologies

Build out a voice-ready wireless LAN that addresses coverage, capacity, and quality-of-service concerns

Consider a SIP-enabled IP PBX and make sure your IP telephony provider is part of the plan

Don't sign long-term cellular contracts that tie your company to a certain volume of minutes or dollars

Perform a limited trial, perhaps with single-mode Wi-Fi-only phones Watch the MMC/FMC market

Unlike in Asia, dual-mode phones combining Wi-Fi and cellular have had limited availability in the United States. However, despite carriers' fears that customers placing free calls over Wi-Fi will cut into peak voice minutes and bytes -- and their profits -- dual mode is the future.

These devices are making headway, highlighted by Apple's iPhone introduction and the new BlackBerry 8820. We expect this trend to continue in the smartphone market, with Wi-Fi capabilities eventually showing up in lower-end phones, too.

Dual-mode devices offer several advantages to businesspeople. Cellular signals can be poor to nonexistent in buildings. Third-generation, or 3G, networks offer almost continuous data connectivity and reasonable throughput, but they easily become saturated, in some cases to the point where the service is unusable -- something we learned the hard way at the Interop conference in May. In both cases, Wi-Fi serves as a good secondary voice and data transport option. It also has the potential for cost savings. When used in mobile-mobile convergence implementations, employees can use their phones to receive and place calls via voice over IP over a Wi-Fi network, reducing cellular voice minutes. (MMC refers to the combination of wide area mobile technologies and Wi-Fi.)

IT administrators should get ahead of the trend and ensure that their voice and Wi-Fi networks are ready for and compatible with mobile-mobile and fixed-mobile convergence systems. That way, when dual-mode devices do show up in the workplace, or an opportunity arises to take advantage of multimode communications, they can do so with minimal effort and disruption.

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