Mobile operator Orange has announced a fixed-mobile convergence phone, offering Voice over IP calls when in range of a home Wi-Fi access point and mobile calls outside through a single handset.
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The service, aimed initially at consumers, follows the launch of BT’s Fusion service more than a year ago, with a dual-mode phone connecting to a landline through a wireless hub as well as to a mobile network. BT launched an enterprise version earlier this month, which is being trialled by Leeds city council.
Orange’s Unique phone offers users a single phone number, address book and bill. They will also be allowed to make unlimited free calls to landlines and Orange mobiles when at home.
At the user’s home, the mobile handset connects to an Orange “Livebox” via Wi-Fi, with calls routed via the internet. Outside, the Unique phone works just like a standard mobile, with calls routed via the mobile network. Users will be able to switch automatically between mobile and home networks without interrupting their call.
The new product will be available in the UK in November.
John Delaney, principal analyst at Ovum, said that Orange's fixed-mobile convergence phone had “the same weaknesses” as the other current offerings on the market or in development. “These include a very limited handset choice, and lack of true seamlessness in network handover.”
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