BT has unveiled a new enterprise fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) solution to help organisations merge their Wi-Fi networks to GSM mobile networks to cut costs.
It said the new service would enable organisations to take advantage of fixed-mobile convergence and the increasing deployment of IP telephony and Wi-Fi coverage, to potentially deliver greater productivity, benefit from reduced GSM call costs, and improve quality of service.
BT launched a similar service to home users and small offices over a year ago, which sees users deploy 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, the calls are routed through a cheaper land line, and when not in range they go over the more expensive mobile network. BT is selling competitive call price plans with this service.
The first customer 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.
Leeds Council employees involved in the trial will use a dual-mode mobile phone that incorporates both regular GSM and additional Wi-Fi connectivity.
Within Leeds 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 the council’s premises ensures optimal in-building coverage. At present, analysts such as 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.
The use of BT Corporate Fusion will allow Leeds Council staff to continue using a mobile device, while allowing the council to migrate these calls on to Wi-Fi and potentially bring down the cost.
Outside the office, the device works like a regular mobile phone, enjoying ubiquitous coverage and the benefits of global roaming on GSM.
Adrian Fegan, Leeds Council’s head of ICT operations, said of the service, “It allows us to operate more efficiently by reducing our telecoms spend, which is critically important for an organisation spending public funds. It also gives us the opportunity to be more responsive. Our employees can be more mobile and contactable, and as result, they can serve the city of Leeds to the best effect.”
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, Benelux, Spain and France.
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