Motorola , Avaya , and Proxim this morning announced a collaboration between the three to push a converged solution for voice over IP (VoIP) that would allow for roaming between cellular and wireless LAN (WLAN) networks, as well as data services.
Micky Tsui, vice president and general manager for Converged Systems Division at Avaya, said in a conference call about the announcement, “We are creating a new category in wireless solutions… We’ll facilitate seamless handoff from access points in enterprises to cellular networks outside. An employee will have true, always-on wireless communications.”
The standards-based solution will include voice-enabled infrastructure products from Proxim, Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)-enabled IP telephony software enabled by Avaya MultiVantage Software, and phones from Motorola that will work on both Wi-Fi and cellular networks.
The initial target for this project is enterprises, but Bo Pyskir, senior director business development, Motorola, stresses that that means all sizes of businesses: “[We] have come to the conclusion from taking to business around the world that employees are increasingly mobile and working in multiple locations. Companies want to decrease costs and increase employee efficiencies.”
The challenges of going to market with a convergence solution are numerous. Psykir points to things such as Quality of Service (QoS) for voice traffic, security, and phone battery life due to the way Wi-Fi connections drain power (“an issue where we’ve made some significant progress”).
He couldn’t say yet what company will provide the 802.11 chips Motorola will use in its dual-system phones. Prices on handsets are expected to equal that of a mid- to upper-tier cellular phone.
Billing for users would be two fold — it would still require that a user have a relationship with an existing cellular provider, but when inside the corporate WLAN, billing for calls would revert back to the enterprise’s usual phone expenses.
Proxim products currently don’t support the VoIP infrastructure they plan for, but Angela Champness, senior vice president and manager for Proxim’s LAN division, says that some of the components for use in the converged network are available. They will be upgradeable to the new features.
“Customers don’t have to wait for infrastructure deployment,” according to Champness. Part of the new infrastructure will include a gateway on each access point for easier centralized control.
Eventually, the companies may sell their solutions into more than just the corporate enterprise. “There’s no reason we can’t extend this eventually into hotspots and the home,” says Champness, which is why they went for a standards-based solution.
Despite being based on existing standards to allow as for easy access, Champness also noted that “there will be areas that we call Standards Plus, that will have advanced features.”
Proxim and Avaya expect to have their convergence components ready soon. Trials of the joint solution will commence in the second half of the year.