Fixed-Mobile Convergence Gets Revved Up

What if your employees could be always reachable on one device, at one number, and with one voice-mail box?

Frank Bulk, Contributor

October 5, 2007

2 Min Read


Why would any PBX vendor ignore FMC? Some just don't have the research dollars to spend, and third-party FMC vendors, such as FirstHand, aren't likely to burn resources on companies with limited market share when there are bigger IP PBX vendors to fry. This niche is where PBX-agonistic vendors such as DiVitas and Agito could eventually play.

North American carriers are also moving carefully. T-Mobile and Embarq have consumer-oriented FMC products, but nothing for the enterprise. Sprint, as mentioned earlier, is the only wireless carrier that ties directly into the corporate PBX. Verizon and AT&T do have mobile-extension products, but with their own unique twists.

AT&T brands its network-based FMC offering as OfficeReach, while Verizon has two entries: its network-based Wireless Office, which provides abbreviated dialing and call control, and a more full-featured premises-based system. Wireless Office does not require a special client but presents more limited calling options, while the more functional Ascendent System can offer clientless features only if a user first dials into the PBX.

The disadvantage with both Verizon's Wireless Office and AT&T's OfficeReach is that the primary number becomes the employee's mobile number, rather than the PBX main line or user extension. While the obvious advantage is that no PBX investment is required, you also don't get any added features.

All these carrier products are lightly marketed and voice-centric, mainly because Verizon and AT&T aren't about to jump into working with enterprise PBXes. They're all about leveraging their own networks and are willing to customize and extend access to it if it will drive minutes. But their interaction with PBX vendors has thus far been limited to enhancing mobile network call-control features, not linking to the corporate communications infrastructure. However, without tying into the enterprise PBX, all your data is on the carrier network, and that creates lock-in--just what CIOs don't want.

Imapct Assessment: Enterprise FMC

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