SPECIAL REPORT: Mobile Convergence

Mobile Convergence Makes a Difference

For nearly a year, commanders, deputies and officers in the Lee County Florida Sheriff's Office have been using fixed mobile convergence (FMC) technologies to respond faster to real emergencies such as robberies, accidents and other crimes.

FMC capabilities were launched in April 2008 through an Ascendent Technologies (a subsidiary of Research In Motion) and Sprint partnership. The Sprint Mobile Extension solution extends the identity and functionality of the desk phone out to any mobile phone, thus simplifying how deputies communicate and check voicemail while away from their desks.
FMC is at the center of the convergence of wireline and wireless voice, video, and data.

With this solution, agents and command staff are able to have one phone number to be reached at and have their desk phones simultaneously Also, being able to make a call from their mobile phone and extend their desk phone number instead of their mobile number is an important security feature that can be used by any organization according to Sprint.

“When we first learned about Mobile Extension and its fixed-mobile convergence capabilities, the most impressive element was its seamless integration. We were so accustomed to inconveniences, such as missed calls and multiple voicemails, that we had no idea of the benefits of true voice mobility,” said Captain Richard Schnieders of Lee County Sheriff's Office.

“We've seen vast improvements in both productivity and collaborative efforts since deploying Mobile Extension, and our citizens are better served as a result.”

According to Sprint, officers also have the ability to access desk phone features such as extension dialing, transfer, park, hold and conference, all from their mobile devices, making it easier for them to collaborate with other staff members on the move. Another important feature to the commanders is the ability to extend office caller ID from a mobile device (e.g. BlackBerry), thereby protecting the privacy of their mobile numbers.

2009 - Moving Forward
Lee County has also equipped patrol cars with upgraded Mobile Broadband (based on EVDO technology) cards, offering applications such as IP video telephony, push-to-talk service and multi-user video conferencing directly from the car. Broadband speed means streaming video and high speed data uploads are feasible, which can be especially helpful for patrol officers handling mug shots, reports, line-ups, criminal pursuit or emergency evacuations in the field.

“As law enforcement and computing become more and more sophisticated, we're requiring more bandwidth than we ever thought possible. Broadband allows us to push the data out to patrol cars, enabling officers to have the same abilities in their car as at their desk,” according to Captain Schnieders.

The Telecom Manager Benefits
Delivering the promise of FMC to customers is a part of every major telecom supplier and provider strategy. Every company has professionals whose job is to make sure the technology delivers tangible benefits to the customer. At Sprint, it is people like Mike McRoberts and Dan Jacobsen.

As today's mobile government workforce relies more and more on mobile information solutions, they must deliver the benefits government gains from converging media and FMC solutions.

Put FMC To Work For You

Telecom providers are making FMC solutions available to government through Networx and GSA Schedule 70 contracts. Depending upon the solution you choose, after installation, agency telecom users and managers can look to FMC to deliver benefits such as:

Leverage existing assets - Depending upon the solution you choose you may not need to upgrade your PBX or replace your mobile phones. This can facilitate getting started and reduce your initial capital outlay.

Reduce trunks - Does your FMC solution route your calls efficiently through your providers IP network? If so, you can reduce trunk usage by moving calls onto your IP network or routing them around your enterprise altogether.

Control Service Levels and Track Calls - Use your FMC service to extend all your “inside” services to your mobile devices. That allows you to set and enforce calling parameters as well as track and log mobile calls. Users get intra-company dialing and corporate voicemail capabilities as well.

Customer Friendly Calling Features - One phone number, one voicemail and seamless transfer between wireline and wireless networks; and with FMC your staff can call colleagues by dialing their extension – no access codes or additional dialing required.

McRoberts told 1105 Government Information Group Custom Media that telecom managers benefit from FMC because it helps maximize cost savings by reducing the number of cell phone minutes and getting those minutes on to your PBX networks where favorable rates have been negotiated. Another benefit is you ability to reduce the number of trunks you need to make wireless calls said Jacobsen.

McRoberts points out telecom managers can deliver user benefits such as one phone number, one voice mail and all of the functionality of the PBX at their disposal, while the telecom manager has control over user calling privileges.

“Let's say a person can only make calls in one area, you can now put those restrictions on that user with wireless integration,” said McRoberts. “If you want person to call over the country that's OK; if you want to restrict them to calls across the PBX network, you can do that too.”

With FMC, the user expect to get enterprise voice mobility that works with any provider or manufacturers phone, including smart phones, other mobile phones, desk phones, and home phones, and supports both TDM and IP corporate phone systems.

The Organization Benefits
“The benefits are you increasingly want your employees to work anytime, anywhere with control, with security, so that they can only access the information they are supposed to,” McRoberts said.

“We have had the ability to secure data and email and database access. But what you haven't had until the implementation of FMC is the ability to also secure your corporate voice network and make sure if it's a government related voice mail and they are in one place,” McRoberts continued.

What Sprint has done is put together an FMC solution for organizations with 100 or more users. Jacobsen said that Sprint's Wireless Integration with Cisco Unified Communications Manager Solution for the mobile workspace extends its functionality to Sprint wireless phones, reduces telecom expense and improves employee productivity.

“It not only converges your desk and mobile phones, but it allows all calls within your enterprise to be “on-net.” No other solution in the marketplace offers this kind of
convergence”, said McRoberts.

Sprint Wireless Integration is delivered using the Sprint IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) architecture, built into Sprint's IP/MPLS network, which not only minimizes equipment required on the customer premises but also allows for intelligent routing and “on-net” calling capabilities nationwide.

McRoberts added “What convergence really does is allow you to really secure all aspects of your business environment and provide access when needed and shut it off if required.”

And what wireless integration does is leverage what telecom managers have already done in the wireline environment via their IP PBX to secure their voice networks and transfer it to the wireless environment.

McRoberts added, “You already know how to manage it because you are managing your IP PBX today; now this lets you make the wireless devices an extension of that.”

“That's the power of this,” McRoberts added. “It's the elegance; capabilities that before we couldn't extend to wireless devices, now we can.