BT Corporate Fusion on track for 2007 launch

Analyst Ovum reports BT as having confirmed that Corporate Fusion, its fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) service for large enterprises, is to launch in early 2007. It also announced that the first pilot will involve Leeds City Council, which is trialling Fusion across two of its premises, in order to assess its capability to improve productivity and communications.

The employees involved in the trial will use a dual-mode WiFi/GSM phone. Calls will be routed over WiFi while on-premises (access points have been deployed across the council’s buildings) and over GSM when off-site.

Ovum’s Jeremy Green and Pauline Trotter commented:

“With this announcement BT is confirming that its Corporate Fusion service is on track for an early 2007 launch, as promised. This is all the more important given the trail of delays and evasions that dogged the launch of the consumer version of Fusion.

But it isn’t giving much away. BT has not yet revealed details of its handset suppliers for Corporate Fusion although it plans to do within the coming weeks. Indeed, the press release contains a rather coy reference to the platform supplier: “BT’s previous announcement on 11 May announced a relationship with Alcatel to develop a hosted variant of the BT Corporate Fusion service (referred to in this announcement using its generic name, Enterprise FMC. BT Corporate Fusion is the brand name for BT’s suite of Enterprise FMC services).”

It’s not at all clear whether the Leeds trial is based on the Alcatel platform- though the reference to a “suite” of services suggests not. It may be a reference to other kinds of FMC – including CPE-based options – believed to be under development in parallel within BT. These may be scheduled for an earlier launch than the hosted product. BT’s announcement is at least clear on the schedule for commercial launch. The service will initially be launched in the UK and Italy in early 2007, followed by a phased international rollout in Germany, Benelux, Spain and France.

There is one more interesting aspect to the announcement. Leeds City Council is one of Orange’s flagship customers, with the implementation described in some detail on the Orange Business Services website. The fact that the Council is looking to BT for FMC services, at least at the trial stage, ought to make mobile operators sit up and take notice.”