The pace of fixed-mobile and VoIP-mobile convergence is picking up rapidly, if news coming out of this week's Fall VON conference is any indication.
A number of announcements highlighting the various approaches to bringing together voice over IP and cellular mobile telephony rose above the general hubbub of Fall VON in Boston. Several of these related to the MobileIGNITE Alliance, formed in January of this year under the auspices of BridgePort Networks.
First of all, MobileIGNITE Alliance, which styles itself "the world's first open standards approach to mobile VoIP convergence," announced the addition of no fewer than five new members at the show. In alphabetic order they are:
- Aruba Networks, a vendor of secure, centrally managed Wi-Fi network infrastructure
- Qualphone, a provider of interoperable mobile embedded 3G/IMS client solutions and interoperability testing solutions (IMS = IP Multimedia Subsystems, one of the two open standards MobileIGNITE is championing, the other being SIP)
- ReefPoint Systems, a vendor of "massively scalable" carrier-class multiservice security solutions for converged wireless and wireline networks
- SIPquest, a developer of both client and server software for voice and other media over converged networks
- Sonim Technologies, a company specializing in mobile adaptation of VoIP, including Push-to-Talk
Each new member is initially working on interoperability between its products and BridgePort's NomadicONE Network Convergence Gateway (NCG), the company's core product that seeks to provide single-identity phone number service across multiple access networks, including cellular mobile, cable, DSL, and Wi-Fi, according to an Alliance press release.
BridgePort also announcedand demonstratedin conjunction with fellow MobileIGNITE Alliance member 724 Solutions, a mobile VoIP solution that uses Microsoft Live Communications Server 2005 to bridge a user's mobile phone number identity, phone calls, presence, and messaging between his/her mobile phone and the Microsoft Office Communicator 2005 client.
Based on an integration between BridgePort's NomadicONE NCG and a 724 Solutions product (yet un-named) based on the company's Xtreme Mobility Suite, the solution provides a seamless bridge between enterprise and mobile services, based on a user's physical location.
Calls and messages sent to a user's mobile phone number are delivered using SIP from the mobile provider, via Live Communications Server 2005, to the Office Communicator 2005 client on the user's desktop. In addition to voice, media types bridged include SMS and MMS messages with pictures and video clips from camera phones. When users are mobile, the solution delivers IM and voice sessions directed to Office Communicator to their mobile phone.
SIPquest, too, made a product announcement at VON, namely, its Dual Mode Client, software that lets users place and receive calls using the same numberon the same handsetover the best available network. This will let handset manufacturers produce products adapted for the emerging fixed-mobile convergence market.
"We bring a seamless and intuitive user experience as well as network-side operations and control features for ease of deployment," said SIPquest president and CEO, David Hattey.
SIPquest's Dual Mode Client has been used in trials by European converged business communications provider, Timico. "Timico was the first service provider in Europe to demonstrage a wirelesss VoIP client integrated with a GSM phone," said Timico's technology director, Trefor Davies. "As a key player in the market for converged services, we know the value of powerful client software, which is why we're working with SIPquest."
Finally, Convergin, a provider of core wireless convergence servers (WCS), announced Accolade, its new core network convergence solution, that will provide mobile capabilities for softswitch-based networks. That is, Accolade creates a unified fixed-and-mobile core switching solution by interworking with wireline switches.
As a core element, Accolade supports mobile gateway switching for GSM, CDMA, and 3G/UMTS networks on a single platform. It can be deployed in any packet network alongside a standard softswitch or media gateway controller.
According to the company, the solution offers seamless access across the SIP and mobile domains, allowing service providers to offer new convergence services such as 'single identity,' SIP roaming, and support for dual mode cell/Wi-Fi devices.
"This offering is a significant step in service providers' network evolution that realizes fixed-mobile convergence at the core, and sets a proactive migration parth to IMS," said Convergin CEO, Dr. Ayal Itzkovitz.