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December 07, 2005

Yankee Sees FMC at �Critical� Stage

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor


Desk phones across many large enterprise markets could soon be replaced by various flavors of smart phone-based products that "offer end users mobile data and PBX functionality," if the Yankee Group's latest estimates are on the mark.
 
Such a development, should it come to pass, would also offer IT managers centralized control of mobile and fixed services, with the result that multiple service providers, including mobile operators, will profit.
 
Recent research by Yankee Group finds that "critical shifts" are about to occur in the enterprise telephony landscape in the coming 18 to 24 months, as "a number of supply and demand trends coalesce to bring about integration of fixed PBX and mobile telephony systems in the enterprise," according to group officials.
 
These forces, the technology research and forecasting group predicts in a new report, will encourage fixed-mobile convergence in the large enterprise segment in the next five years, creating what they describe as "new service models around high-value managed telephony services."
 
Enterprise fixed-mobile convergence 'tis a consummation devoutly to be wished, especially among handset makers retooling for more dual-mode handsets integrating Wi-Fi and GSM chips, but experts warn that "efficient call handover between Wi-Fi access points is still not assured," according to industry observer Martin Courtney.
 
Residential FMC systems are already available, Courtney says, but these "tie users into a single AP and do not deliver the sort of indoor roaming that enterprise users would need."
 
“The Wi-Fi to GSM connection works, but handing a call from one internal Wi-Fi or Bluetooth base station to another in a large enterprise environment doesn’t,” Carrie Pawsey, senior analyst at research firm Ovum told Courtney. “The call is dropped and [must be] reconnected.”
 
Of course maybe a defined FMC standard is in the cards, which would clear up a lot of the problems currently associated with the technology where major vendors such as Cisco are addicted to proprietary systems.
 
"The need for ongoing industry consultation and interoperability testing means any agreed standard is likely to be a long time coming," Courtney writes, adding that "in the meantime, Nokia has promised that all its future business smartphones will integrate Wi-Fi connectivity."
 
The report, "The Emerging Effect of Enterprise Fixed-Mobile Convergence," examines the effect FMC will have on the enterprise telephony market. It's being marketed by Yankee Group primarily to fixed and mobile operators, VARs, and systems integrators as an aid to help them "understand the impact current and future fixed-mobile solutions will have on the enterprise telephony landscape."
 
The report also classifies the "flurry of vendor activity" -- including Avaya, British Telecom, Ericsson, Motorola/BellSouth, Nokia/Cisco and OnRelay/Nokia -- in this emerging segment to "clarify service provider positioning with respect to enterprise FMC."
 
TMC's Patrick Barnard reported recently that Avaya Inc. held the market leadership in enterprise telephony during the third quarter of 2005, according to Dell 'Oro Group's IP Telephony Enterprise Report, 3Q 05.
 
The Dell 'Oro report, which takes into account Avaya's revenues from both IP and traditional telephony, places the company two points ahead of its nearest competitor, with 19 percent of the market, Barnard reported.
 
Nicholas McQuire, Yankee Group senior analyst, Wireless/Mobile Enterprise Solutions said demand will rapidly grow "as awareness of FMC's benefits reach enterprise decision-makers such as a reduction in and greater control of mobile costs, enhanced productivity and greater mobility."
 
McQuire also thinks FMC will let service providers achieve lower customer churn levels, increased enterprise penetration and grow average revenue per enterprise, as well as "enhance their strategic standing with valuable enterprise customers."

David Sims is contributing editor for TMCnet. For more articles please visit David Sims' columnist page.
 

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