Cisco Plots More Dual-Mode Action

Expanding its play for enterprise fixed/mobile convergence (FMC) services beyond its partnership with Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) says it will work with other device vendors to ensure that their phones work with Cisco WiFi networks.

As first reported on Unstrung, Cisco has been working with Nokia on FMC since early this year. (See Cisco, Nokia Team on FMC.) The pair have a project that will enable calls to be routed via the office PBX to Nokia 6000-series phones over a WiFi connection if a user is in range, or a GSM cellular connection if not. Nokia is also ensuring that some of its other smartphones, such as the 9500 Communicator, are compliant with Cisco's CCX wireless-LAN extensions. (See Cisco Speaks Enterprise.)

It's clear, however, that Nokia is not Cisco's only iron in the FMC fire. Supporting a wide range of dual-mode devices forms a crucial element of Cisco's efforts to enable enterprise mobility. (See Cisco Ingests Orative .)

Ben Gibson, director of mobility marketing at Cisco, says that the firm is working with other vendors on CCX-compliant devices, which should help to ensure peak performance over Cisco networks. "There are definitely other ones in the hopper," he tells Unstrung. The company, however, isn't ready to name names yet.

Cisco already has a CCX partnership with BlackBerry , although the Canadian BlackBerry-maker doesn't have many WiFi-capable devices available yet, aside from the 7270. The forthcoming BlackBerry 8800, however, is expected to be 802.11-ready. (See RIM Outlook Strong.)

At least two other big-name vendors have cellular-WiFi converged devices in the works. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC) already has a couple of WiFi-capable cellphones available, of which one is being sold as part of T-Mobile US Inc. 's initial FMC service. (See T-Mobile Pilots WiFi/Cell Service.)

Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) is also developing cellular/WiFi devices. As yet, however, even its flagship Q smartphone doesn't have integreated 802.11.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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