Telephony trio partner for seamless roaming products

Making the workforce seamlessly mobile is the goal for Avaya, Motorola and Proxim, but an IDC analyst wonders what happens when the workers have nowhere to go.

The Avaya Inc., Motorola

Inc., and Proxim Corp. announced Tuesday that they plan to jointly deliver converged IP telephony, cellular and wireless LAN network enterprise solutions. The offerings will support continuous voice and data services across enterprise networks and Wi-Fi hot spots. They will also facilitate a seamless hand-off between access points within enterprises and from the enterprise IP telephony network to the cellular network outside, says Avaya VP and general manager converged systems division Micky Tsui.

The partners plan to use the strengths of each company to make the 802.11 based solution a success, they report. To that end Avaya will be contributing SIP enabled multi-vendor software, Tsui says. It will also contribute its speech access technology and visibility management and VPN technology.

Customers can expect a new Wi-Fi/cellular dual mode phone from Motorola while Proxim will be responsible for the voice-enabled WLAN infrastructure, company executives say.

The biggest market opportunity for the converged solutions exists in enterprises with an increasingly mobile work force, says Motorola senior director of business development Bo Pyskir. He says research done prior to the development of the network identified a fast growing number of global enterprises whose employees were working from multiple locations. For them having a unified network just makes sense.

“”Businesses in today’s environment are looking for ways of. . . increasing employee efficiencies and at the same time want to reduce their telecom costs and networking costs,”” he says.

Those cost reductions are to come from reduced network management costs, says Proxim Senior vice-president and general manager LAN division Angela Champness. “”You’re now looking at a single cabling system providing support for both voice and data. And also a single infrastructure providing support for both the voice and data.””

Champness says further possible savings could come in the form of reduced usage fees. She says cellular charges which currently occur within an enterprise would be reduced and even long distance charges could be reduced if employees were to use this capability in a hot spot.

“”In the area of increased capabilities and applications we are now looking at a single phone number for every user and a single voicemail box for every cellular and office call,”” she adds.

Although IDC Canada senior telecommunications analyst Warren Chaisatien agrees that there is good market growth potential for this type of solution, he says the consortium will have a tough time breaking ground in Canada. The public hot spot market is too small for enterprise employees to start relying on it.

“”In Canada there are only a handful public LAN hot spot providers right now,”” he says. “”There just isn’t that much happening on the Canadian market yet.””

Chaisatien adds that there is more growth opportunity in the United States at this time, as its public hot spot market is significantly more developed.

Pyskir says that the companies are not blind to the challenges ahead and have identified the trouble areas.

“”Among the challenges are delivering quality of services over a voice over IP. Battery life on a mobile device, security and interferrence are also among (them),”” he says.

Confident that all bugs can be worked out, the companies plan on begining customer trials in the second half of 2003, Tsui says. According to Pyskir the to-market date for the solution is early 2004.

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