Fixed-mobile convergence might finally get unified comms onto mobile phones?
A new unified communications client for smartphones could be the key to winning wider acceptance for cellular-to-WiFi roaming technology, according to fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) specialist Agito Networks.
The client software, for a range of Nokia Series 60 and Windows Mobile 6 handsets, takes presence data from the office network via Agito’s RoamAnywhere Mobility Router and integrates it with the phone’s native applications. Users can then see the best way to contact colleagues and others on their buddy-list, and activate the appropriate program.
“Previously you had a mish-mash of up to seven different applications – email, IM, a PBX client, and so on,” said Pej Roshan, Agito’s co-founder and chief marketing officer.
“Now you just pick a way to communicate, and we use the phone’s programming hooks to pull up a ready-addressed email or instant message, say. As a user, you can have more contextual information too, so your presence reflects how you wish to be contacted, for instance ‘Don’t call me – use email because I’m in a meeting’.”
He added: “We want to make it so it’s not an effort to reflect your presence, using information that comes from Microsoft OCS and your calendar. We’re starting with OCS but will add support for Lotus SameTime and the Jabber protocol used by Cisco.
Roshan argued that unified comms has so far been PC-centric, and that attempts to port it to smartphones have stalled because the client software assumed mains power and an always-on network connection.
“I saw it myself – with the Microsoft mobile client, battery life on my HTC handset dropped to four hours, and when our engineers investigated, they found the CPU running at 100 per cent and the 3G always on,” he said
He claimed that, as well as being “very battery- and CPU-efficient”, Agito’s advantage over other smartphone clients that allow mobile phone users to route calls through the office PBX is that its scheme can transparently and seamlessly switch to IP telephony and WiFi, when available. This can bring huge savings on the phone bill when users are in the office or roaming abroad, he said.
The client can also work over a 2G or 3G cellular connection, of course, and can update its host Mobility Router when the phone’s SIM is changed, allowing users to swap SIMs for cheaper calls while roaming.
Roshan said that the RoamAnywhere Presence client has a list price of $15 to $40 (£10 to £27), depending on volume. Pricing for the Mobility Router starts at $9995 (around £6800).