Three high-tech companies have formed a partnership to link Wi-Fi and mobile networks for voice and data on mobile handsets.
Motorola will build handsets with both IEEE 802.11x and cellular radios integrated inside and include the mobile management within each handset to do the handoff between the networks on the device side.
Proxim will supply the VoIP-enabled access points and access control devices including a centralised gateway for roaming.
Avaya will include its Avaya MultiVantage Software, along with its telephony switches and its IP telephony capability, including SIP, which allows for presence information to enable the handoff on the network end.
In its first deployments the companies are targeting Wi-Fi in the enterprise rather than hot-spot locations, but over time however, the plans are far more ambitious.
"Our vision is to connect the various spaces, public hot spots, private in the enterprise, and personal in your home," said Bo Pyskir, senior director of the WLAN business development team at Motorola.
In this scenario, a user might subscribe to a mobile network for wide-area access and a local ISP or DSL service provider for VoIP connections in the home.
Among the major roadblocks to deploying a converged network are billing and battery life.
Motorola's Pyskir said the power drain on batteries associated with Wi-Fi has been solved, and that Motorola-converged phones will have a battery life comparable with existing mobile phones.
The technology behind a "seamless service experience" contains patentable IP technology but it will be deployed on standard mobile and Wi-Fi networks, said Dave Bonaker, Avaya vice-president in the endpoint wireless and security group for the converged systems division.
The service will work with all of the major wireless networks including CDMA, GSM, and iDEN, and requires a software upgrade to access points and the server-based switching software at the enterprise from Avaya.
The phones themselves will have approximately the same form factor as existing Motorola handsets. However, the handsets will include both an .11a/b or a 11a/g technology.
Pyskir said the company is considering licensing the technology that allows the seamless roaming to other handset manufacturers.
The first pilot sites are expected in the second half of this year with full commercial services and the handsets are scheduled to become available in early 2004.