SPECIAL REPORT: Mobile Convergence

Mobile Convergence Value Proposition

Attention government telecom planners, buyers and contracting officers! Relax!

As you begin to use Networx for your telecom and TIC requirements, you can relax, knowing that whatever solution and provider you choose, you will be choosing quality.

“When we say best value, it is not a hollow statement,” Karl Krumbholz, GSA Director of Network Services told 1105 Government Information Group Custom Media.

“We really are the best value; and best value implies not only low price, but high quality; our providers are THE providers in the industry - AT&T, Level 3 Communications, Qwest, Sprint and Verizon. If you are going to look for better quality I don't know where you can find it,” said Krumbholz.

Why FMC?
“We definitely can do whatever any agency wants us to do; whether it is new technologies or legacy services; it's available and efficiently available on the Networx contract,” added Krumbholz.

“Whatever” includes the FMC solutions from the biggest names in the business, powered by equipment built and backed by the biggest names in the business.

So, why is government so interested in FMC?

According to Mike McRoberts, technical lead for FMC at Sprint, government customers are interested in FMC (Sprint refers to their FMC solution as Wireless Integration) because while they are not always at their desks, they need to communicate as effectively as when they are at their desk.

FMC is paving the way for what may be the ultimate real evolution of telecom from wireline centric systems to wireless centric systems and the resulting flexibility and security you gain from converged networks.

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they could have full capabilities of their PBX anywhere?” asked McRoberts. “If they get a call, they can transfer it to somewhere else in the organization or they can set up conference call if they need to.”

More Efficient
McRoberts notes that 30% of all calls within an office environment are placed from somebody's cell phone when they are sitting right next to an office PBX phone. What's more this call is often placed to another office PBX phone in that same office.

“When you do that you are going out to the wireless network to the public switched telephone network, then back in over their PBX trunks. You are using up capacity and creating inefficiencies for the carrier and the customer.”

Moreover McRoberts says with FMC when staff leaves the office, the one, single number they are using is their official DID number.

“Do you want your employees to establish their personal cell number as their official reach number or wouldn't it be better if you are reaching them via their DID number and have the ability to have simultaneous rings,” explained McRoberts. “It rings at PBX station and on the cell phone. You can take a phone call as you are walking into the office and seamlessly reconnect without having to hang up and dial back in.”

Additional paybacks include a single number as the primary reach number whether in or out of office added McRoberts. “You also have one voice mail, so you don't have to check your wireless and office mailboxes. You now have one voice mail has all of them in one place.”

What this does is provide managers will the ability to maximize your telecom and PBX investment. If you have set up your PBX networks and negotiated favorable calling plan arrangements, no longer would you lose some of those benefits when employees take those calls off your wired network and put them on your wireless network.

Wireline/Wireless Convergence
McRoberts says what Sprint is offering is exactly what they use themselves for FMC. “From technology perspective, we have designed our wireline and wireless networks to work together and we committed years ago to moving to an all IP MPLS network.”

We are big user our own technology said McRoberts. “Our wireless network runs over our IP MPLS network. We have implemented a technology called IMS or IP Multimedia System which basically has integrated our wireless network into and with our IP MPLS network.”

“We designed at the get go with the idea that we were going to converge both wired and wireless over one network; and that network was going to be integrated and work in seamless fashion,” said McRoberts.

McRoberts says that offers have been designed to incentivize customers to use the MPLS network for voice, video and data.

“With IMS we have integrated wireless capability into the MPLS network so that your IP PBX now has full capability of connecting to the wireless network,” said McRoberts. “With the work we've done with Cisco and Avaya and other PBX manufacturers, we are turning the cell phone into an extension of the PBX which gives all the benefits for the customer as well as a telecom manager.”
Simplicity Is Elegant

Implementing FMC sounds like a “no brainer”. But as in everything new there are challenges; and they can be solved through education.

According to McRoberts one of Sprint's challenges is some people think of Wireless Integration as some sort of campus Wi-Fi implementation with your PBX, which means new phones or separate types of phones. And since Sprint has had some Wi-Fi implementation campus wide for years, they ask what is new and different.

“What is new is that it is simpler than that,” McRoberts explained. “This allows you to take your end users existing wireless - whether under corporate or individual plans - and make them an extension of your PBX. No new investment in phones is needed in order to implement this.”

“In fact if you have a user community that isn't even located in the office,” McRoberts described, “and maybe they work at home or work out on the road, and you want to give them the capability of fully participating as part of PBX network, you can do that for first time because we can take wireless devices and make them an extension of your PBX – even if you don't have a wired phone in an office.”

“This doesn't have all of the costs and barriers to adoption. It is flexible and open.”

For McRoberts, the #1 priority is getting people to understand is the simplicity and elegance of this approach and how it opens up opportunities for telecom managers and the user community to get the benefits of the PBX extended to their cell phone.

Future Convergence
For McRoberts and others in the telecom industry, FMC is paving the way for what may be the ultimate real evolution of telecom from wireline centric systems to wireless centric systems and the resulting flexibility and security you gain from converged networks.

“Today the paradigm is wireline centric,” noted McRoberts. “In five years it will be wireless centric. We will think about how to do something wireless first and then apply it to wireline. While there will still be 'fixed workers', but for most employees things are going to be designed with mobility in mind. You will get from the wireless network the same controls and security access you had from the wireline network for voice video and data.”

The bottom line to telecom experts such as McRoberts is that FMC technology allows customers to seamlessly transfer calls and call features from a wireline to a wireless network and back again with one device that has one phone number and one voice mail box.