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Fixed-mobile convergence service promises savings

BT has unveiled a new enterprise fixed/mobile convergence service to help organisations merge their Wi-Fi networks with GSM mobile networks to cut costs.

BT said the service would enable organisations to take advantage of fixed/mobile convergence and the increasing deployment of IP telephony and Wi-Fi coverage, potentially achieving greater productivity, reduced GSM call costs, and improved quality of service.

BT launched a similar service to home users and small offices more than a year ago, which sees users deploying a small wireless hub that connects a dual-mode phone to both a land line and a mobile network.

When in range of the hub, calls are routed through a cheaper land line, and when not in range they go over the more expensive mobile network. BT plans to sell competitive call price plans with this service.

The first organisation to trial the new enterprise service is Leeds City Council, the UK's second largest local authority.

The council is piloting BT Corporate Fusion across two of its premises to assess its capability of improving productivity and communications.

Council employees involved in the trial will use dual-mode mobile phones that incorporate both regular GSM and additional Wi-Fi connectivity.

Within the council's premises, calls made from these mobile phones are connected via Wi-Fi access points and routed over existing fixed-line infrastructure.

Deploying Wi-Fi access points across Leeds' premises ensures optimal in-building coverage. At present, analyst firms Gartner and IDC estimate that more than 50% of employees' mobile phone calls are made within offices, despite the fact that cheaper fixed-line phones are readily available.

Using BT Corporate Fusion will allow Leeds City Council employees to continue using mobile devices, while enabling the council to migrate these calls onto Wi-Fi and potentially bring down the cost.

BT will announce details of mobile handset deals with suppliers in the coming weeks. The service will be launched in the UK and Italy in early 2007, followed by a phased international roll-out in Germany, the Benelux countries, Spain and France.

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