Ian Kilpatrick, chairman Wick Hill Group, believes the biggest challenge in fixed mobile convergence isn’t the availability of technology or indeed whether it works out of the box.
“The challenge is that, while customers are intuitively aware that integrating elements of their fixed networks and mobile networks could provide benefits, practically speaking, FMC as an acronym is worth nothing to them.
Given that we are not sure ourselves as an industry about what FMC refers to, that is hardly surprising – Dual mode handsets, DECT, cellular, WiFi connectivity, etc. all offer elements of FMC, as do many other solutions.
While users (particularly SMEs) continue to be confused by the plethora of divergent approaches all claiming to be the same thing (the FMC Holy Grail), they will continue to sit on their hands and avoid purchasing decisions.
Another part of the problem around ‘out of the box’ solutions is the fact that most SMEs have both tactical and strategic requirements. Therefore, not only do they want/need an immediate solution, but they also want one that will grow with their needs.
The challenge for suppliers and resellers is therefore to specify solutions that can both work as is, but also contain the ability to grow and expand, as the needs of end users grow and they become more sophisticated in the use of the systems. Oh yes, and all within a typical SME budget i.e. small.
In this scenario, I would say that there isn’t a typical one size fits all solution.
For some users, a hosted solution such as Gamma Telecom’s mobility solution, enables them to provide convergence at a low cost for just their mobile users, with the ability to add on more services across the user estate as and when required.
For other users, something similar to the Samsung Ubigate, which enables them to inexpensively add IP and mobile services onto their existing legacy PBX, may be attractive.
And, of course, for those with a better vision and a more immediate need for greater FMC functionality, the Samsung OfficeServ range provides a better approach. But, at the end of the day, any ‘out of the box solution’ in FMC for SMEs will need tailoring to their actual tactical business requirements.”