Virtual PBX Featured Article

Enterprise PBXs Get Mobile Phones Through Range Networks

September 19, 2014

By Joe Rizzo - Virtual PBX Contributing Writer

Range Networks Inc. is a U.S. company that has only been around for a few years, founded in 2011, and provides open-source software products used to operate cellular networks. The company created the OpenBTS Project, an open source software defined radio implementation of the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) radio access network. It presents normal GSM handsets as virtual Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) endpoints.

Over the past year or so, the company has done some interesting things. A little over a year ago Range Networks released an update to OpenBTS which a few months later was it was able to use to bring a cellular network to Antarctica. According to Range, this deployment extends the existing communications network of an Australian Antarctic station, to provide cellular communications in one of the most remote and challenging regions in the world.

Earlier this year, Range Networks answered the call for the demand for low cost, easy to install GSM cellular networks for remote rural service, rapid deployment and private industrial networks on ships, oil rigs or in mines. The key ingredient that makes this change possible is OpenBTS. These are all locations that normally would not receive a cell signal.

Last week Range Networks announced a virtualized, low-cost cellular network solution for the enterprise that integrates with existing PBXs and makes standard mobile phones fully part of an enterprise’s phone system. This application of Range Networks' OpenBTS software opens up new market opportunities for operators, system integrators and communication vendors who can now deliver true fixed-mobile convergence services without costly IT investments.

Something else that we have seen over the past year is enterprises allowing their employees to use their own mobile devices, BYOD, as part of their workforce toolkit. This, in turn, has led to what can be considered as disruptive changes in wireless infrastructures. Range Networks’ is finding ways to resolve the issues by offering a low cost cellular network solution that easily integrates with existing PBX systems. In essence, it is providing mobile devices with the same functionality that a company’s PBX desk phone has.

"Range Network's OpenBTS has always been held up as an open platform for mobile innovation. By demonstrating the application of a virtualized software-defined multi-protocol mobile platform for the enterprise market, we’re opening new market opportunities for operators, system integrators and communication vendors alike,” explained Edward Kozel, who is the CEO of Range Networks. “Carriers can now provide enterprise markets with true fixed-mobile convergence services without costly IT investments and system integrators and communication vendors can more easily integrate 802.11 or VoIP PABX products with mobile devices and MNOs. I believe our software-based open architecture will attract new capital and innovation, ranging from the Internet of Things to location services and applications for productivity enhancement. We are excited to be at the forefront of this shift in mobile infrastructure."

The idea is that private enterprise networks and Mobile Network Operator (MNO) networks can co-exist with each other through virtualization. This creates an instance of a distinct network for each carrier on the same hardware and keeps private enterprise traffic completely isolated from public extension traffic.

In addition to this being a flexible, off the shelf solution, no additional mobile applications are required on the part of the company’s mobile devices. All that is required is a simple system registration and that mobile phone becomes a part of the enterprise dial plan using native dialing without OTT software installation or using specially provisioned phones.

Not only will Range Networks’ solution provide enhanced privacy for company communications, it will also offer an opportunity to lower mobile phone subscription costs, something that is sure to catch the eye of enterprises everywhere.

Edited by Alisen Downey


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