T-Mobile USA and enterprise wireless LAN vendor, Meru Networks, have teamed up to bring fixed mobile convergence (FMC) to enterprise customers. The venture is using unlicensed mobile access (UMA) technology to let users of T-Mobile devices roam between outdoor cellular infrastructures and indoor WiFi networks without experiencing any interruption to their calls.
T-Mobile has joined Meru’s WINS (Wireless Interoperability and Network Solutions) Partner Program, and the two companies have completed interoperability testing of UMA-equipped T-Mobile devices with Meru enterprise WLANs. The testing verified seamless handoffs between Meru WLANs and the T-Mobile cellular network. The companies have also agreed to conduct joint marketing and sales activities.
The work done by Meru and T-Mobile is designed to let enterprises save on phone costs as increasing numbers of employees use their cell phone as their primary work phone; whenever end users move onto a Meru virtual cell WiFi network, they no longer eat into the allotted number of minutes in their cell phone plan.
Phillip Redman, a Gartner research vice president who authored the recent report, titled Enterprise Mobile Phones Will Replace Desktop Phones in North America, commented: “The number of mobile phone-only users in enterprises is expected to increase six fold over the next four years. This means enterprises need to start looking now for ways to increase the efficiency and mitigate the costs of their voice communication infrastructures. One effective means of doing this is to combine in-building wireless voice with external cellular services.”
T-Mobile is the first national carrier with an FMC offering targeted at enterprises, and the first to leverage UMA technology, which provides GSM/GPRS mobile devices with access to Meru enterprise WLANs over unlicensed spectrum bands. T-Mobile’s dual-mode lineup includes devices from BlackBerry, Nokia and Samsung.
Dave Fredericks, national director for products solutions and planning for T-Mobile, said: “Meru’s innovative wireless virtualisation technology makes it an ideal fit for a venture that bridges the cellular and WiFi environments. UMA technology ensures a seamless experience in moving between networks. Once users move onto the WLAN, Meru’s virtualised WLAN architecture guarantees they’ll have the same experience as on cellular, because the use of a single RF channel enterprise-wide eliminates handoff interruptions and co-channel interference. After seeing how our dual band phones operate over the Meru WLAN, we are confident that the use of UMA technology will change the nature of the enterprise voice experience.”