Motorola, Cisco Partner Seamlessly

The fruits of the much-ballyhooed Motorola-Avaya-Proxim seamless mobility project, launched early in 2003, are ripening now, with multiple customer trials currently under way. Clearly, Motorola thinks this is a good thing, as the company has just announced a similar initiative with another 800-pound gorilla of the VoIP world: Cisco Systems.

According to Motorola vice president of Enterprise Mobility Solutions, Jeff Miller, the partnership, aired last week, has virtually identical aims to the earlier venture: to create a dual-mode, Wi-Fi/cellular, enterprise-scale IP telephony solution, with virtually instantaneous handoff between the two network platforms.

“We’ve had lots of demand for VoIP from our enterprise customers,” Miller told EnterpriseVoIPplanet. “And they want mobility,” he emphasized. Indeed, the desire for mobility in communications seems to have become a familiar theme in the industry.

The dual-platform approach uses the cheap-to-build-and-operate Wi-Fi network for on-campus telephony—providing complete mobility across network nodes—and switches to cellular when out of range of the enterprise WLAN.

“VoIP saves the enterprise major headaches with respect to moves, adds, and changes,” Miller pointed out. “There’s no requirement to move wiring around—and it provides better services for employees,” he said.

Motorola’s contribution to the new solution will be “an extension of existing phones”—which is to say an adaptation of the CN620, now to be named the CN622—to work with the Cisco technology, and Motorola’s Wireless Services Manager, which manages handoff and ports advanced VoIP features to the cellular network. Cisco will provide both the IP PBX—its popular CallManager—and the network infrastructure—the Wi-Fi access points.

According to Jeff Miller, the access points will not be those from the recently acquired division formerly known as Airespace, but rather “the next generation of the traditional [Aironet] infrastructure line.” The CN622 phone will work with both 802.11a and 802.11g (5.8 GHz and 2.4 GHz) flavors of Wi-Fi. The system will use the increasingly popular Session Initialization Protocol (SIP) rather than Cisco’s Skinny Call Control Protocol (SCCP).

Miller mentioned power consumption/power management as an area of particular focus in the development project. “Wi-Fi telephony is a notorious battery killer,” he stated. “We have optimized power usage with inactive modes and sleep modes for significantly improved battery life.”

Commenting on the announcement, ABI Research senior analyst Phil Solis said simply “This is huge for Motorola,” going on to explain that the deal expanded Motorola’s market enormously. Motorola’s Jeff Miller echoed this evaluation, and cited “Cisco’s worldwide reseller network” as a big, big factor.

Motorola and Cisco are working together on both solution development and go-to-market plans. They expect the solution to be available early next year (a much shorter development cycle than Motorola’s Avaya-Proxim effort).

Miller added, “In general, this solution is evidence of our focus on enterprise customers. And it is only one of an ongoing set of products and solutions addressing the needs of those enterprise customers.”

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