Slashing office-based mobile costs

Ofcom opens up wireless spectrum with 12 technology-neutral licences, enabling companies to combine private GSM networks with existing mobile phones.

Ofcom recently confirmed that it has awarded 12 new licences for the wireless spectrum to be used on a low-power basis. The licences are technology-neutral, which allows licensees to use the spectrum for any purpose, within specified technical limits.

A number of licensees are looking to exploit the spectrum for private GSM mobile telephone networks in office buildings or campuses. One such licensee, TeleWare, has set up a new subsidiary, Private Mobile Networks, to provide fixed and GSM mobile integrated networks fully supported by TeleWare products. The spectrum allocation allows the company to extend its services to enterprise customers, with key clients having commenced beta trials.

The system enables companies to integrate cellular telephony with the enterprise PBX or IP-PBX infrastructure. At the heart of the offering is a private mobile exchange (PMX) that utilises existing mobile handsets to support an integrated IP, wireless system for employees in the office environment, avoiding the need to utilise a wireless Lan (WLan) infrastructure and telephones with multi-wireless technology.

When an employee is within the private GSM network range the mobile telephone becomes an extension of the company’s telephone exchange. This is a simple, secure process, with only registered mobile telephones able to access the network. Once registered, the functionality of office telephones becomes available on the mobile handset.

There are a number of ways a user can be associated with the private network. The mobile telephone can be provided with a Sim card that enables the telephone to connect to the private network and ­allows the handset to work in a similar way to a digital enhanced cordless telecoms-style phone.

Where connectivity is required to both the private and cellular networks the user can choose to have a roaming agreement with a mobile network operator, dual Sim cards, or to manually select the operator from the telephone’s menu. Each option has its own advantages and deployment will depend on specific business needs for flexibility, security, cost and control.

The implementation of private GSM networks will significantly lower the cost of using mobile telephones in the campus-based environment. Additionally, organisations with multiple sites will be able to route calls from each private GSM network telephone across an IP network, further reducing expense.

Before adopting a combination of WLan and cellular technologies to lower on-campus mobile telephone costs, Butler Group strongly recommends that organisations consider the use of private GSM networks as an alternative, which can exploit existing mobile telephones and use GSM, a technology specifically designed for voice usage.

Mark Blowers is senior research analyst at Butler Group

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