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April 2007
Volume 10 / Number 4
Innovative Ideas from the "VoIP for Small Business" Experts
Richard "Zippy" Grigonis

The New World of the Mobile Worker

By Richard “Zippy” Grigonis, Innovative Ideas from the “Service Provider Applications” Experts

Mention the words “telephone” and “mobility” and most people think of their wireless handset or “cell phone” as we say in the U.S. Typically, these mobile handset devices access networks that provide connectivity to other phones using GSM, CDMA or some other proprietary mobile signaling system. These networks connect to but are separate from what your desktop phone is connected to — the wireline network built by AT&T (News - Alert) many decades ago, known as the PSTN (Public Service Telephone Network). When you hang up your office phone, get up and walk outside, to make another phone call you must use your mobile phone to access a different, wireless network and the carrier associated with it.

Now, however, the telecom industry’s movement toward “converged communications” is rapidly changing this long-standing scenario.

“In the near-future, both wireless and wireline networks will come together or ‘converge’ so that each user is served by a single provider,” says Jon R. Doyle, Vice President of Business Development at CommuniGate Systems (News - Alert) (www.communigate. com) of Mill Valley, California. “In fact, many providers today offer both networks. In the U.S., AT&T is a great example of this. AT&T purchased Cingular (News - Alert) Wireless, and of course it also provides fixed network access to its PSTN, which AT&T began building in the 19th century.”

“Most people still think of ‘mobile’ as being just a wireless, cellular technology, which is no longer the case,” says Doyle. “Mobility now means that it doesn’t matter where you or I happen to be situated when connected. A phone in Sao Paulo registered to my server in San Francisco rings just like the phone on my desk in San Francisco; it has no distinction of location. Physically, we and our devices can become completely mobile at a moment’s notice and still maintain continuous communication with each other. We can also move a phone call from one type of network to another, seamlessly. Moreover, the devices we use on the Internet Network have no concept of toll or location-based models; once devices are connected, they can communicate to other devices, just like email or web services.”

Doyle elaborates: “Here at CommuniGate Systems we have technology based on the now hot buzzwords ‘converged communications’ and ‘dual-mode cell phones’. Let’s say you have an application server such as our CommuniGate Pro platform that can provide interesting applications to both of those networks and ‘bridge them’. If you’re sitting at your desk talking to me and you say, ‘Wait a minute Jon, I’ve got to jump into my car and get going,’ you can press a special button on your dual-mode cell phone, and that call between you and I will be linked into that cell phone over a wireless network as you leave the building and enter your car. You can see the productivity benefits of this. You don’t have to hang up and redial. Moreover, it’s one network, one provider, and one bill.”

CommuniGate Pro is known as a powerful Internet Communication Server among service providers, carriers, and mobile operators. Its open standards-based integrated platform enables service providers the world over to deliver carrier class Messaging (Email, Calendaring) and Real-Time (VoIP, Video, Instant Messaging) communications over IPv4 and IPv6 networks. CommuniGate Pro also supports SIP/SIMPLE (Session Initiation Protocol (News - Alert)) protocol and XMPP, which in turn enables support for Instant Messaging, audio, and video communication.

“Another dramatic change for the industry is that, if everyone now becomes truly mobile, moving between networks and using dualmode phones, then connectivity to the network will become less expensive and less revenue- generating for the carrier,” says Doyle. “Lower rates will obviously be very beneficial to subscribers, but carriers will now have to provide applications that we subscribers will be willing to pay to use. We can assume very soon you will have IP-based phone devices for your desktop, mobiles and home, and you’ll be paying a fee of somewhere between $25 and $40 a month for connectivity to the Internet so that you can use these devices. If that’s the case, then it’s clear that the carrier won’t be receiving as much revenue from you as it did before. Look at your mobile phone bill today, or your house phone bill, with its many additional charges. Those revenues will begin to disappear, and so the carriers will need to offer rich applications, which we call ‘rich media applications’.”

“Our CommuniGate Pro application server can provide a rich set of applications to be sold by providers. We have all the infrastructure for making phone calls, supplying presence information, calendar data, and so forth, but the Rich Media applications for consumers and business subscribers will drive new revenues. We provide these today, among both wireless and wireline networks,” says Doyle.

“Another very interesting aspect about the modern interpretation of the word ‘mobile communications’ or ‘Internet Communications’ is that you now have one address space,” says Doyle. “My address space, [email protected], is my single address space for all forms of communications. Contacting me at my single address space rings both my desktop phone and mobile phone at the same time, and I can choose which device I want to use at that moment. Again, not only am I physically able to be mobile with different devices, but my address space is portable too and can link to any kind of device.”

“When a service provider moves forward by adopting CommuniGate Pro’s service delivery solutions, the subscribers will not only be able to move almost seamlessly between the desktop phone and the mobile handset, but they’ll also have a single address space. They can be physically mobile because your ‘phone number’ or address space are mobile across different networks.”

“Telecom networks will continue to evolve and converge,” says Doyle. “Look at what’s happening with PBXs. Many of them accept expansion cards that make them compatible with SIP, the chief signaling protocol of the VoIP world. Well, that’s very nice, but it represents a transition phase. Dual-mode handsets that are able to move from GSM to WiFi and back again are also interesting, but in the future, WiFi and WiMAX (News - Alert) will be everywhere, so there may not even be a need to handoff a call between GSM and WiFi. After all, GSM itself is just another protocol for another closed network that is based on toll fees. If you and I can get that wireless signal for Internet Communications, then you can simply dispose of the GSM network.”

“Once that transition occurs,” says Doyle, “what will those operators sell to you and me when we’re on the Internet? Will they be able to compete with what I can get from Google (News - Alert)? Will they provide me with interesting applications, and have support centers that care about me? We won’t be paying toll calls anymore, and we will look back and think how paying 10 cents for a phone call now seems odd. The carriers must use technology such as CommuniGate Pro to offer exciting, revenuegenerating rich media-based services.”

Richard “Zippy” Grigonis is Executive Editor of TMC’s (News - Alert) IP Communications Group.


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