FMC: What's in it for the enterprise?

* Fixed-mobile convergence

One of the hotter convergence topics of late is fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) - the ability to merge wired and wireless telecom resources so that users can have what amounts to their desktop phone in that handheld device in their pocket.

Sounds like a simple concept, right? Well, FMC is anything but simple: it requires lots of technical stitching on the part of the carrier or vendor to smooth out the seams between the wired and unwired worlds; and there are multiple instantiations of FMC from which an enterprise can choose - which makes the right FMC decision more difficult.

But once the networks are stitched and the decisions about whether to opt for a carried managed service or enterprise-centric FMC implementation are made, the benefits are manifold, industry players say. They include the ability to be reached through one phone number wherever you are - at your desk, around campus, roaming about or at home; as well as the promise of reducing enterprise telecom costs by, for example, bypassing international mobile roaming charges when making cross border calls.

The end game with FMC, observers say, is to equip workers with what amounts to the enterprise PBX in their pocket. Another driver is cost. FMC melds several disparate infrastructures - such as TDM and packet VoIP, IP data, Wi-Fi, and various flavors of cellular - into one. One infrastructure is a lot less expensive to operate than several.

Enterprises can also save on telecom costs as well. In addition to bypassing international roaming charges, businesses can tame their out of control, yet increasing cellular bills by selecting one or two service providers or vendors to include cellular as a component of an overall FMC or unified communications package.

But this is all promise for now.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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