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Network World has a good two part synopsis of what is going on in the converged cellular/WLAN space: The piece concludes that the main reasons that enterprises would want such a solution is to save costs on calls made both within the enterprise and to locations outside of campus. Such converged networks also supply a single contact point for executives, which realistically isn’t a huge deal because many people already pass out a single number and just use call forwarding.
A BridgePort executive claims that big enterprises are telling telcos they won’t pay for calls made between employees on campus. I’m a little unclear on the point here, but I think that he’s saying that enterprises don’t want to pay the wireline telcos for calls between employees on campus and that presents an opportunity for cell carriers who, by offering a converged device, can be in control of calls that are made over Wi-Fi networks on campus. That means the cell carrier gets the business of carrying calls on campus but doesn’t have to extend or add capacity to its mobile network because the calls will be carried over Wi-Fi.
That’s a logical thought, but I’m a bit skeptical about whether enterprises are pushing telcos for free calling on campus. They may be pushing, but until the threat of something like voice over Wi-Fi becomes a reality, I can’t see why the telco would want to give that service away.
There is plenty of activity in the converged cellular/Wi-Fi space and while I often argue that there’s not much in it for the cellular operators, I suspect that the service is inevitable. The cell operators may resist as long as they can but at some point they may have to capitulate and try to get whatever benefit they can from the offering. One such benefit would be to win enterprise business such as the scenario described above. But they’ll have to weigh that benefit with the possibility of having to hand calls over to hotspots that they don’t own.
Posted by nancyg at March 29, 2005 7:20 AM
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