Thursday August 4, 06:45 AM
Motorola Invests in Trapeze for Fixed-Mobile Convergence
The strategic investment arm of telecom equipment vendor Motorola Inc (NYSE: MOT - news) has taken a stake in WLAN switch vendor Trapeze Networks Inc with a view to furthering the development of fixed-mobile convergence technologies such as Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA).
They have cellular and outdoor wireless mesh network while were mainly indoor WLAN, said a spokesperson for Pleasanton, California-based Trapeze. Were expanding into mesh and they want to go indoors.
The driver here is the growing interest in voice services over wireless networks, be they corporate WLANs or public WiFi hotspots. Skype has recently unveiled its SkypeZones VoWiFi offering with hotspot aggregators Boingo and The Cloud and Linksys is readying a VoWiFi phone for Vonage.
Motorola itself has just announced plans with Cisco for VoWLAN phone to be managed by the latters CallManager IP PBX and is providing the handset for BT Group Plcs Fusion offering, a service based on a UMA implementation that involves running cellular voice over a wireless network in residential and SoHo environments. Today that traffic reaches the AP via Bluetooth, but BT (LSE: BT.L - news - msgs) has announced plans to move to WiFi connectivity over the next year.
One of the issues here is seamless handover between cellular and wireless networks, with implications for accounting and billing systems, the Trapeze spokesperson went on.
Clearly, if a conversation is started on a cellular network outside of the corporate environment and continues over the companys WLAN when the employee reaches the office/factory etc., not only will there be a need for handover to take place without interruption, but the mobile operators billing system will need to recognise that, at a certain point, the call went off its network and onto a corporate LAN.
Schaumberg, Illinois-based Motorola is not in the traditional, indoor WLAN market right now, though it acquired outdoor mesh developer MeshNetworks in November last year after an earlier investment in that company by Motorola Ventures. It also began distributing and reselling MeshNetworks products before buying it.
The current investment comes with no such deal to OEM Trapezes switches or access points, however, though the Trapeze spokesperson said it is not ruled out. It would appear, at least at this stage, that Motorolas prime motivation in investing in Trapeze is to get closer to WLAN developments to beef up its VoWLAN skills, rather than to get into indoor wireless data networking.
BT Fusion is so much more than a mobile phone. It is a revolutionary new service that works with Broadband from BT...
BT website here
BT to launch fixed-mobile service
Wednesday, 15 June, 2005, 14:29 GMT 15:29 UK
BT Group is to launch a pioneering internet phone service that allows users to switch between mobile networks and fixed-lines using a single handset.
The service, called BT Fusion, uses a specially-equipped mobile phone to access BT's fixed-line network when making calls at home or in the office.
On the move the hybrid service will connect to Vodafone's wireless network.
BT hopes that the service will counter both mobile networks and start-ups offering cheap internet telephony.
The company said BT Fusion would combine the convenience of a mobile phone with lower fixed-line prices.
Customers subscribing to BT Fusion will receive a clamshell Motorola v560 mobile handset.
An access point installed in the home, called a BT Hub, will switch the mobile phone to a broadband line using Bluetooth wireless technology.
BT has been focusing on broadband technology recently in a bid to offset a decline in its traditional fixed-line services.
Analysts at consultants Ovum described BT's new service as an industry "watershed".
"The separate fixed and mobile telephony services are no longer discrete but are intertwined. It is not overstating the case to say that the industry will never be the same again," Ovum said.
However, investors were less sanguine about the offer. Shares in BT Group were down more than 1.5% at 219 pence in late trade on the London Stock Exchange.
The UK's dominant fixed-line telecoms provider said BT Fusion would enable customers to make calls to UK landlines at its off-peak landline rate of 5.5 pence for up to an hour, and 3p a minute at peak hours.
"For the first time customers will be able to get the best of both worlds in one service, combining the convenience and features of a mobile with fixed-line prices and quality," said BT Retail boss Ian Livingston.
The BT hub also works as a wireless router, providing users access to PCs, laptops and games consoles wirelessly around the home.
BT said customers joining the service would need a BT telephone line and a subscription to BT Broadband.
The service will be trialed on 400 users before being more fully rolled out in September.
The company said BT Fusion would be offered in two price plans of £9.99 and £14.99 a month.
Alcatel press release
Alcatel-primed consortium launches "BT Fusion"
Paris, June 16th, 2005 — Alcatel (Paris: CGEP.PA and NYSE: ALA) today announced that the consortium, which it leads, has successfully launched BT's groundbreaking fixed-mobile telephony service. BT Fusion previously known as "Project Bluephone", has been launched to the consumer and SoHo market after widespread and successful pilot trials.
Alcatel leads a consortium that includes Ericsson, Inventel, IVT, Lucent, and Motorola and provided solutions integration to BT in the months leading to the launch of what is Europe's first fully converged fixed-mobile telephony service. BT Fusion provides consumers with a single cordless handset capable of routing calls and data over BT's fixed line broadband network when they are at home, but switches seamlessly over a Vodafone mobile network when they are out of the home.
As Prime Contractor to the consortium, Alcatel drew on its global services integration expertise to act as project manager and to unite all consortium members behind a smooth roll out and implementation. This included extensive development and integration work in BT labs, as well as interoperability testing between the consortium vendors.
The BT Fusion solution provides a fixed-mobile telephony service to consumers, where the same handset can be used to call over fixed (broadband) or mobile (GSM) networks. The service uses the UMA standard, which has now been formally released and accepted into the 3GPP standards group for generic radio access. UMA allows BT to carry GSM signalling and telephone calls over the public Internet using DSL access, with a Bluetooth interface. BT Fusion will be technology agnostic and in time, will work across other standards including WiFi and SIP.
"BT is today launching easy to use converged services and is a benchmark reference for successful innovation in the industry", said Jacques Dunogue, Executive Vice President for Alcatel. "Bringing together the solutions of the consortium members as project manager and service integrator has been an invigorating and challenging opportunity for Alcatel. We are proud to have been part of this far-reaching program".
Press excitement over BT Fusion
News - Press excitement over BT FusionBT Fusion has been hitting the headlines across the globe since its launch mid-June.
The world's first converged fixed and mobile phone service has sparked excitement in the national and international press.
"The phone for life" was the way the Daily Mail described it, while the Financial Times said the handset will "revolutionise mobile telephony".
France's Les Echos said: "All the operators in the world have their eyes fixed on BT".
BT says the launch marks an important milestone in the broadband revolution - and will allow people to communicate in ways they never have before.
BT Fusion works like any mobile phone when you're out and about - but when you return home, it switches automatically to a BT broadband line.
BT Retail chief executive officer Ian Livingston said: "We promised to launch the world's first seamless combined fixed and mobile service and now we're doing it.
"The service will transform the communications landscape and bring excellent value to customers.
"For the first time customers will be able to get the best of both worlds in one service - combining the convenience and features of a mobile with fixed line prices and quality."
The launch of BT Fusion will start with about 400 early adopter customers and should be more widely available for delivery in September.
Next Generation Trend Letter/ Volume 1, Issue 6, July Edition
Publication Date: July 2005
IN THIS ISSUE:
BT - The Fusion of Fixed and Mobile Services is Out of the Bag
BT has revealed details on its new consumer Fusion service, arguably the world's first fully convergent service. The service is attractive, but will need more handsets and a migration from Bluetooth to WLAN if it is to succeed.
Pyramid Research Analysis
Fixed-Mobile Convergence Finally Taking Off? Assessing BT’s Fusion Service
British Telecom (BT) has finally announced its new consumer fixed-mobile convergent service, Fusion, formerly known as Bluephone. Fusion is the first fully convergent service on one device, with one bill and seamless handover between fixed and mobile networks. Pyramid Research views Fusion as a very basic starting point for the convergent services that are to come.
Pyramid Research senior analyst Svetlana Issaeva comments, “BT is pushing the right buttons with Fusion, but launching with only one network compatible handset model will keep adoption to a minimum in the short-term.” BT must make Fusion more attractive by increasing handset options as segmentation down to the device is imperative in a developed market. BT’s reported plan to offer Fusion on Motorola’s best selling RAZR model will positively impact service uptake. More important to Fusion’s success is BT’s plan to move the service from Bluetooth to WiFi networks and utilize Wi-Fi enabled handsets. Vendors like Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson are expected to bring WiFi handsets to the market in 2006, at which point Issaeva expects BT to increase handset options. The number of models and their availability will directly affect rates of service adoption.
Fusion, in its current state seems more like a proof of concept than a commercial money-maker. Important to BTs success in the convergence space will be their next steps in the enterprise segment and adding TV and video content to their service portfolio.
BT launches combo fixed-mobile handset
Published: June 15, 2005, 7:18 AM PDT
By Cath Everett
Special to CNET News.com
U.K. telecom giant BT Group unveiled its fixed and mobile convergence service Wednesday, offering it with two pricing packages.
BT's new Fusion service, previously dubbed Project Bluephone, is aimed initially at the consumer market and is based on a cordless Motorola handset that acts as a cellular phone outside of the home, but inside routes calls through a hub onto a BT broadband line.
"The launch of BT Fusion will start with approximately 400 early-adopter customers, with the service being widely available for delivery in September," said Ian Livingston, chief executive of BT Retail.
The Fusion handset currently uses Bluetooth to connect to the hub, but the system is also set up for Wi-Fi, which means customers can also connect it with wireless-enabled PCs, laptops, games consoles and printers in a broadband home network. Consumers will also be able to use the hub with Wi-Fi cellular phones as they become available.
Fusion will come in two price bundles. The Fusion 100 will provide customers with 100 call minutes for 9.99 pounds ($18) per month, while Fusion 200 will cost 14.99 ($27) per month for 200 call minutes. Customers will also receive handsets and a hub as part of the package.
Analysts said that the launch of Fusion marks a watershed moment for the telecommunications industry. "The separate fixed and mobile telephony services are no longer (discrete) but are intertwined. It is not overstating the case to say that the industry will never be the same again," analyst house Ovum said in a research note Wednesday.
Despite the technological implications, getting the pricing right will make or break Fusion, according to Ovum. "BT is offering mobile to landline calls at the same price as its current landline rates--savings of up to 95 percent. This makes a great headline, but is just one type of call," Ovum said.
The 9.99 pound fee, on the other hand, compares "less well" with the bucket offerings of mobile operators such as 3, the analyst warned.
Fusion's success will also rest on BT getting its distribution strategy right. Most customers choose their service provider at retail outlets, but BT initially plans to offer Fusion only through its portal and by phone, said Ovum.
While this may seem counterintuitive, it does make sense as Fusion works only with a BT broadband line and the telephone company knows who all of its 1.3 million customers are.
BT's convergence con-Fusion
Leader | ZDNet UK | June 15, 2005, 15:05 BST
Convergence has great promise for telecommunications, but BT's new Fusion handset leaves most of that potential untouched
The launch of BT's Fusion handset has been widely trailed as an industry-changing event. At last, a mobile phone that works at home without touching the expensive mobile networks - one, moreover, that works over broadband. And everyone knows that broadband telephony is very cost effective, right?
Not in the world of BT, where Fusion calls from home to a landline cost as much as they do from any landline. Calls from home to a non-landline number - mobiles, 0800, 0845? Full mobile pricing.
Let's look at this for a second. In the worst case - you calling another Fusion phone when both ends are at their homes means paying mobile rates plus the monthly fee for a VoIP. What's more the call is being carried over a broadband service you're both already paying for - and, since that has to be BT Broadband, you're paying for fixed line rental as well. In other words, BT has got you to pay three times for a service that is normally too cheap to meter. The only convergence happening is the contents of your wallet converging with BT's bank account.
On top of that, you currently have no choice of phone -- more are promised, says BT -- with no picture messaging from home -- it'll work soon, says BT -- and no choice of broadband provider. Why so? Because it's a BT Broadband service and BT wants it to be a special treat for its customers only, says BT -- or, one might suspect, because it's easier to market such a dog to a captive audience.
The most frustrating part of BT Fusion is that convergence is clearly a good idea, especially in business where it should be an essential component in an integrated messaging environment that encourages new services alongside better cost control. Furthermore, it makes most sense where each component -- mobile network, broadband supplier, local hub and mobile phone -- can be selected individually, working together with standards such as Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) . More features, more choice, lower cost: now, that's a proposition.
BT Fusion as it stands fails miserably to match up to the potential of the technology. That's very disappointing, given the length of time BT's been working on this. The good news is that this leaves the market open for people who have the idea that a good product should give customers a good deal.
BT 'BluePhone' Fusion is better than Skype because...?
By Guy Kewney, Newswireless.net
Published Wednesday 15th June 2005 14:58 GMT
Analysis BT has gone and done it: launched BluePhone under the new name of BT Fusion, even though it still doesn't have a WiFi version, or any way of selling this product. Why? Probably, because it wants to preserve the concept of phone numbers.
Fusion is a system which does exactly what the world's phone manufacturers could have done three years ago: uses the phone's own Bluetooth software to do VoIP through an Internet gateway. You can start a call in the street, using Vodafone. Then, walk through your front door and automatically switch the call to your Bluetooth hub, without dropping the line.
It didn't happen three years ago, because the world's mobile operators sabotaged the technology. Shortsightedly, perhaps, the operators told the phone builders: "If your phone can do VoIP over Bluetooth, we won't sell it."
What BT can't say, because it doesn't know, is whether it still has a chance of making the idea work.
The announcement says: "A BT Fusion 10 minute off peak rate mobile call from home will cost up to 95% less than the same call using a typical mobile competitor package."
That's true. Off peak, BluePhone calls cost 5.5 pence per hour. Most cellphone networks would charge you around three to six pounds for that hour's conversation.
Three years ago, it might have been a success, because three years ago, there was no such thing as Skype offering completely free phone calls over WiFi hotspots using a PDA phone. Come to that, three years ago, there were no PDA phones and precious few WiFi hotspots. Companies like RedM still dreamed of selling access points based on Bluetooth, rather than on WiFi.
The story behind the launch of Fusion is that BT will almost certainly announce a "business version" in a couple of months, when it has productised a WiFi system which is being prototyped in Canada, and tested in Adastral Park.
Today's launch is a simple test market. Four hundred customers have ordered the new package, and will be getting a brand-new WiFi/Bluetooth combined router, which they can plug into BT Broadband ADSL at home. They will also get a phone from Motorola - a V560 GSM phone - with a little extra software. And they get a Vodafone SIM card offering a special deal. The special deal would have been very, very special three years ago. It would have given cellphone users the ability to make and receive calls on their ordinary cellphone number at home - without paying cellular call charges. Even better, it would have meant they'd get a good signal at home, even if the cellular coverage was poor (it often is, at home). To the savvy consumer, today, there are too many questions for which BT Fusion doesn't offer answers.
Om Malik's Broadband Blog
BT Fusion Big Time (BT) Flop?
Posted Wednesday, June 15, 2005 at 5:24 PM PT
I am absolutely amazed at the amount of unwarranted publicity that has been accorded to British Telecom’s BluePhone announcement, which seems more an experiment, than a commercially viable product. 400 people are getting to beta test it for godsake, and that’s not like earth shattering. The so-called convergence device, essentially a Motorola handset that utilizes a technology called UMA allows phone operators to leverage the fast growing wi-fi networks. UMA is part of the 3GPP (3rd generation partnership project) and basically allows seamless transfer of phone calls to and from mobile cellular, wifi or landline networks. The actual switching happens inside the super pop, (or what used to be the central office) and needs some client side intelligence, provided via an agent software.
BT will take Vodafone’s wireless calls, and put them on its broadband network using WiFi. The idea is that instead of paying seriously expensive wireless call prices, customers would pay cheaper landline prices which can be between 3 pence a minute at peak or 5.5 pence for upto an hour during non-peak times. Unstrung Estimates savings at about 95%. The customers can also login to wifi using BT WiFi hubs as well.
Think of it as an MVNO masquerading as a convergence offering, though not entirely. There are a lot of problems for this to work. Benoit Gariod thinks its like skinning the cat thrice: First you must be a BT Broadband customer. You pay normal landline call charges when making outbound calls from home, and your friends who are calling you will be paying mobile tariffs. Martin adds, “The fact that this product is also tied to BT’s own broadband offering suggests they just don’t get it. That’s monopolist incumbent-think. Just work on taking a small slice of lots of value chains, not large slices of a few.”
James Enck writes: “Firstly, the product is only going to be marketed to BT Broadband customers, of which there may be something like 2.5m by year-end … how many will be looking to change mobile service providers? In the past, this might have been a more straightforward calculation under 12-month contracts, but UK operators are pushing 18-month contracts, which makes the phasing of renewals more complicated.” What more - why should you even bother when you can get cheaper VoIP services which make the hassle of two numbers worth the hassle? Mike sums it up nicely when he riffs, “…all for the “convenience” of using a single device that isn’t very cool and doesn’t have many of the features people expect in their mobile phone.”
Memo to BT: make it simpler, cheaper and easier for consumers and you have a shot at making this thing work.