HP lifts lid on mobile comms offerings

Hewlett-Packard has lifted the lid on a range of new communications products and services, including a system that unifies voice...

Hewlett-Packard has lifted the lid on a range of new communications products and services, including a system that unifies voice and data communications for business users, and an upgraded platform for mobile telecommunications operators.

A new offering in partnership with Sony Ericsson to provide voice and data services for businesses will combine multiple communications systems including voice services, such as voicemail, and data services, such as e-mail and instant messaging, into a unified product.

Mobile services will also be included, and employees will be able to reduce the number of devices they use and can have a single phone number for both mobile and fixed calling.

The HP unified communications product will use private branch exchanges with new internet protocol-based technologies. The product includes Ericsson communications applications, HP network management software and HP servers running Windows or Linux.

The HP/Ericsson offering is expected to be available in Europe during the second quarter and in the rest of the world by the end of the year. In a test deployment in HP's 20 offices in Sweden, the product linked mobile voice and data services with fixed office services, enabling a single, consolidated inbox for voicemail and e-mail.

HP reduced communications costs by 38%, by reducing the number of PBXs, reduced end-user devices to one per employee and managed more efficiently its wireless airtime costs with the local operator.

HP also announced improvements in two mobile offerings, designed to help mobile network service providers bring new services to market. The offerings are designed to help mobile operators roll out dozens of personalised mobile services to niche customer groups, instead of "one-size-fits-all" mobile plans, said Joy King, director of worldwide marketing for HP's network-services provider group.

"We are seeing a move away from the search for the big killer app," King added. "There isn't one. The next killer application is going to be hundreds of services targeting small groups of consumers and enterprises."

HP's improved mobile offerings include version 2.0 of the HP mobile Service Delivery Platform (mSDP) and upgrades in elements of the HP Integrated Service Management (ISM) platform, featuring prepaid, real-time billing and enhanced fraud management. HP also announced new mobility support services to help companies support wireless local area networks and a new content billing system.

HP's announcements ahead of the 3GSM World Congress which takes place in Cannes from 23-26 February.

Focused on the creation and delivery of mobile services, mSDP is an integrated framework of software and tools, partner solutions, carrier-grade hardware and consulting and integration services. The new version of mSDP includes: a platform core that links all mSDP components; adaptors for network management; location and billing services; digital rights management; enhanced security controls; and an improved web services creation environment.

HP ISM is focused on the use and management of communications services. By automating systems such as billing, network management, customer care and fraud management, support system operators can reduce costs and improve the quality of service.

HP's new Content Mediation and Charging (CMC) product enables mobile operators to manage, instantaneously, the processes needed to facilitate mobile data transactions between prepaid customers, the content provider and the mobile operator.

The system manages content charging and payments, real-time content rating and mobile commerce. CMC will allow content providers to keep track of payments owed to them, which should drive more content creation for mobile devices, said Phil McKinney, chief technology officer for HP's network and service provider solutions.

"It's one of the areas that we think is holding back a much broader availability of rich media content," he added. "We're bringing forth a solution ... that addresses the ability for people to get paid."

HP also announced an upgrade to its fraud management solution, designed to protect operators from the new and more dynamic fraud schemes emerging with next-generation voice and data services.

Grant Gross writes for IDG News Service

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