A New Convergence for 2007

Looking back at the events of the last 12 months, Marios Ktisti, Commercial Product Manager, Hugh Symons Telecom sees the ‘open source’ platform and mobile devices as part of the phone system as being the new convergence in 2007

“Open source platforms, such as Asterisk, are becoming more prevalent in the IP sector. Feature rich, scalable and without the need for any licensing, the concept is being tested and adopted by an increasing number of SME’s and corporates.

The flexibility of mediums that can be connected to such an IP system are very appealing, as it provides the best form of least cost routing and back-up should the internet go down. IP based systems sold in the UK, such as SIPtrix, which is based on Asterisk, clearly highlights the new opportunity for both customer and reseller alike.

Convergence is about simplifying business, yet often involves more than one type of technology working together to produce something beneficial for the user. A great advance in 2007 and wonderful example of convergence, was the ability for Nokia E series devices to work as part of the wireless open source phone system, with the worker also enjoying the facility and benefits of ‘push email’ whilst away from the office.

This advancement can work in two ways

Scenario 1 has an organisation with an open source based IP phone system with wireless access points within the office, at branch offices and in the studies of their home workers. Whenever one of their workers’ Nokia E series device is in range of the access point, it changes guise and defaults to that wireless access point. Its next outgoing call will therefore go out over the phone system and provide the user with the cheapest call route. It is believed that 30-40% of all calls made from mobiles are made from one’s own offices. As the phone system is open source, the company has the ability to send out its calls over the internet as its first priority to obtain cheaper calls to the outside world and free calls between sites, but also over ISDN or even analogue as a failover should the internet go down.

It also means that the user can make calls using their own contacts on their device and the company does not necessarily need to provide the additional cost of a desk phone for mobile workers. The device becomes both mobile and desk phone with the best call rates. With the advancements in Nokia’s Intellisync solution, it also means that the user is able to enjoy the benefits of ‘push email’ to the device as well.

Scenario 2 takes the first scenario to the next level. As the Nokia E series devices advance, the user can choose to become part of the company phone system even whilst accessing through a public wireless Access Point in a Costa Coffee, hotel or airport lounge for example. One would need to change the settings within the device and currently this would only suit the more-technically minded individual, but it shows the potential capability and the manufacturers and ISP’s will in time make this more seamless and easier to use.

The benefits of an open source platform, the convergence with mobile devices and the advances in ‘push email’ to the same device are the significant advancements in 2007, as it provides such an appealing beneficial system for customers and a good opportunity for the forward-thinking reseller.

What this new convergence highlights is the need for the reseller to advance their own capabilities or to partner with a value added provider who can fill any missing skills, in order to be able to understand, offer and support such advancements. The day of the one-dimensional reseller is diminishing.