Avaya Picks DiVitas For Fixed Mobile Convergence

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PBX maker Avaya will link mobile phones into its products using an appliance from DiVitas

Network giant Avaya has picked DiVitas to bind mobile phones into its unified communications strategy. Meanwhile, DiVitas’s rival in fixed-mobile convergence, Agito, has entered Europe.

Although fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) can save money, it has struggled to gain wide acceptance against traditional phone systems and mobiles. The two announcements, in the week of the Unified Communications Expo in London, may mark the start of a change in that.

“This is the first time an existing enterprise PBX vendor has acknowledged the need for and forged a deal with a mobile UC (unified communications) partner.” said Vivek Khuller, chief executive of DiVitas. “Avaya is considered a leader in traditional unified communications (UC), which is their core business – and we are the leader in mobile UC. This is a story of ‘traditional UC” teaming up with “mobile UC.”

FMC uses an appliance in the enterprise, that links mobile phones to the company telephone system using Wi-Fi. Costly mobile calls made in the office become regular phone calls or VoIP calls which are cheap or free calls – but users have hesitated because of the integration issues, and fears of unreliability.

As well as adopting DiVitas as a partner, Avaya has announced a number of UC developments, including a business “media phone” (telephone with a big screen), and a USB stick to personalise deskphones.

Meanwhile, rival Agito has launched a European office, in Reading UK, under former Juniper EMEQA vice president Paul Donovan. The two companies fiercely dispute their products’ merits, differing on the best way to integrate mobiles with the office PBX.

Divitas connects to the “trunk” connection of the PBX, and appears to be part of the phone network. It uses the Asterisk open source PBX to handle mobile phones, making them appear as internal phone extensions.

Agito connects on the “line” side of the PBX, inside the office building, and emulates the PBX’s proprietary interfaces so mobile calls over Wi-Fi can be treated as if they come from normal PBX extensions.

The two argue heatedly over which is best – on issues such as how fast phones can hand over to the Wi-Fi network. But the big issue both face is in persuading operators they to offer this sort of appliance as part of their service – despite the fact that it reduces overall operator revenues by replacing mobile calls.

Most observers feel that with call charges decreasing, only a few leading-edge users will bother to go through the stress of integrating a specialist appliance for convergence. The majority will wait as call prices go down, and – eventually – someone offers this as a service.

Avaya’s announcement is a significant step towards this, as it puts an FMC player into the portfolio of one of the operators’ partners, but Agito is not dismayed: “I’m seeing significant interest from European end users and channel partners alike,” said Donovan. “Mobile operators have yet to solve their issues with FMC or deliver enterprise mobility to their customers, paving the way for Agito.”

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