Unified communications and fixed/mobile convergence technologiesthe former bringing multiple forms of IP-based communication into a single, integrated user experience and the latter making corporate IP voice communications available wirelessly, regardless of a user's whereaboutshave been around long enough to no longer be considered exactly cutting edge.
Even the melding of the two approachesnow often known by the term 'mobile UC'has become a fairly mature communications option.
But this week's announcement by fg microtec of the release of a new fixed/mobile client for Windows Mobile devices marks the opening of a new chapter (albeit perhaps not a major one) in the evolution of IP communications technology.
What struck us as new is that the industry appears finally to have reached a point at which vendors realize they don't have to "reinvent the wheel" in order to make their offerings more powerful or more versatile.
Unlike existing client modules that enable PBX and UC-type functionalities on mobile handsets, which are proprietary, fg's new client is standards-based and interoperable with server technologies from other vendors.
Case in point is Siemens Enterprise Communications Group (SEN), whichsimultaneous with the fg microtec announcementannounced the adoption of the new fg client for its OpenScape technology, a brand that includes both UC (Siemens OpenScape UC Server) and mobility options (Siemens MobileConnectwhich works both with UC Server and Siemens HiPath IP Telephony platforms).
When MobileConnect was unveiled in March of 2007, it of course included a client component, one that was compatible with Nokia's E Series handsets. This meant that Siemens customers could enjoy the benefits of F/MCas long as they limited themselves to the capabilities if Nokia's dual-mode phones.
fg's new client, however opens this technology up to the world of Windows Mobile devices, an expansion in versatility that Siemens didn't see fit to undertake on its own.
"As mobility becomes universal throughout the enterprise, we must identify ways to deliver the advantages of UC to an increasing number of mobile devices," said Marcus Birkl, SEN's vice president for Mobility Solutions in a statement. "Working in partnership with fg microtec, we can offer a mobile client to our customers, which will enable them to access their OpenScape solution wherever they are."
The partners aim to cover a broad range of mobile platforms, based on fg's expertise, including Windows Mobile and RIM BlackBerry, in addition to Nokia's S60.
Moreover, in engineering its Windows Mobile client, fg microtec elected not to "reinvent the wheel," to achieve an improvement in audio quality. Rather it chose to make use of Global IP Solutions' (GIPS) highly touted VoiceEngine Mobile.
"GIPS is the clear leader in real-time media processing, which allows us to offer our customers unmatched voice quality," said fg microtec's CEO Robert Mirbaha. "GIPS enabled us to develop a FMC client that offers vastly improved sound quality, which can be a critical differentiator in the competitive mobile market."
Marking the proliferation of available WLAN venues (Wi-Fi hotspots) in corporate office, hotels, cafes, and other public places, GIPS CEO Emerick Woods noted the ever-expanding opportunity for businesses to take advantage of the cost savings associated with VoIP (compared with cellular mobile calling).
"With GIPS VoiceEngine Mobile, voice quality is ensured even under strenuous network conditions," he said in a statement. "It also allows mobile application developers like fg microtec to go-to-market quickly, giving users a sophisticated calling experience, anytime, anywhere and on any IP communication device."