Avaya takes a gamble with Wi-Fi, GSM seamless roaming wireless package

Avaya is taking a big gamble with its recent “”seamless roaming”” announcement. The vision is one of four-way convergence: voice and data on both cellular and Wi-Fi networks. A mobile worker could make a call on the Motorola CN620 handset (which is part of Avaya’s package) over a cellular carrier’s

GSM network, walk into a building and have that call roam to the Wi-Fi network — without having to hang up and redial the number.

Users can also take advantage of data applications on the same device (for more information, please see Avaya to resell dual-mode Motorola handset for cellular, WLAN networks, page 8).

With seamless roaming, Avaya is betting on three things.

One is that a Canadian wireless carrier will actually offer service on the CN620 to its customers. Avaya is depending on Rogers Wireless Inc., because Canada’s other GSM carrier, Microcell Telecommunications Inc. (better known by its Fido brand name), targets mainly the consumer market

The second bet is that its partners — Motorola Inc. and Proxim Corp. — have done their bit to develop sound technology. Avaya has more control over this aspect, because engineers from all three firms worked closely together in making the access points, gateway and handset.

Avaya is also betting that users will be content to buy hardware that won’t necessarily work with other vendors’ access points. As columnist Ron Scott points out in this issue (please see The vision of interoperability remains as elusive as ever, page 6), proprietary systems can lock enterprises into one vendor for all of their networks, and this is clearly not in the interest of the end-users.

Motorola and Proxim worked on this project, but it’s an Avaya-branded package. As a results, Avaya will be known as one of the first out of the gate in the seamless roaming race. But if it doesn’t work as promised, then users will blame Avaya — even if the problem was caused by Motorola, Proxim or an integrator.

Avaya is presenting a grand vision — one that will one day see reality. Hopefully for Avaya, this service will be available in Canada this year and will work well.

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