Aruba reveals fixed mobile convergence plan

Analysts and industry rivals remain unconvinced by five stage product strategy.

Wireless vendor Aruba has laid out a roadmap for full convergence between fixed and mobile networks which it says will be a reality for businesses within two years.

It believes that 'seamless' integration between wired, wireless and cellular worlds is achievable by 2008, with the first steps towards convergence already well under way. Analysts and rival vendors, though, are already calling Aruba's plan overambitious.

Aruba's five stage strategy outlines how its own product range will deliver FMC, and offers a vision for how other players like handset and PBX vendors and mobile carriers can all play their part.

It says the first phase of its plan, bringing voice-aware WLAN features to its range of mobility controllers, is already complete.

Phase two, which Aruba calls Vo-Fi scalability, is about boosting performance and reliability features based on the 802.11e standard. It says it has made these enhancements available now.

In the first half of next year, Aruba says it will add the WLAN and cellular network call handover function to its existing products. This stage, it says, will be based around an open application programming interface (API) to help integrate VoIP calls made over the mobile LAN.

Once IP PBX vendors are on board, carriers are to be integrated into the plan via the Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) standard.

The fifth phase, some time in 2008, will be about 'delivering seamless interworking across enterprise-based IP multimedia services and carrier-based IP multimedia services', says the vendor.

"This is a big deal for us," said Keerti Melkote, co-founder and head of products and partnerships for Aruba. "FMC is a mega trend that will accelerate the move towards a truly seamless mobile edge for enterprise users."

But there are a lot of technical potholes to be got over before true FMC, is a reality, says Camille Mendler, VP with analyst firm the Yankee Group. "It's not just a matter of technology, there are regulatory and organizational hurdles too," she says. "Just looking at mobile operators, their data and voice activities are currently entirely separate. In fact I'd say the organisational issues are more intractable than the technological ones, but these are usually downplayed."

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