Optical/IP Networks

Convergence Game Ignites

The MobileIgnite Alliance is the latest vendor tie-up attempting to target the mobile core convergence space, finds a recent Unstrung Insider report ("Routes to Roam: Convergence in the Mobile Core").

Launched in January this year, MobileIgnite is yet another convergence option now under consideration by vendors and operators (see Vendors Launch Mobile VOIP Program). "Ignite" purports to be an acronym for "Integrated Go-to-market Network IP Telephony Experience."

Rival convergence alliances include support for Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) technology and the SCCAN Forum, backed by Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT). (See Convergence Specs Emerge, Moto Ramps Up Convergence and The Convergence Contenders.)

MobileIgnite was set up to promote the convergence of mobile VOIP and cellular networks. It is focused around BridgePort Networks Inc.'s NomadicONE Network Convergence Gateway (see BridgePort Secures $25M).

BridgePort's kit is a SIP-SS7 gateway hosted in the mobile operator's core network. The gateway converts SIP signaling from the IP side to SS7 on the mobile circuit core side. This is a more voice-centric approach than other convergence offerings, as it is designed so that a call set up or terminated on an IP network can reach a phone on the cellular network.

"In this sense, the gateway looks similar to various systems aimed at wireline and WiFi operators that attempt, where possible, to bypass the mobile operator's network and make use of the public Internet or managed wide-area network," notes Gabriel Brown, author of the aforementioned Insider report. "The crucial difference, however, is that BridgePort's gateway interfaces with a mobile operator's HLR database to access subscriber data – meaning the mobile operator retains control of the call."

Other backers of the alliance to date include Airespace Inc. (acquired by Cisco Systems Inc. [Nasdaq: CSCO] earlier this year), Boingo Wireless Inc., Core Mobility, IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), Kyocera Wireless Corp., PCTEL Inc., 724 Solutions Inc., Sipura Technology Inc., TapRoot Systems Inc., and VeriSign Inc. (Nasdaq: VRSN).

According to Brown, the alliance's credibility would be further strengthened by expanding its member base. "It's notable that the alliance does not yet include any mobile carriers, while Kyocera and IBM are the only major vendors. If left unresolved, this will clearly become a problem for sales into the mobile-operator market, which typically values a wide supplier base and standardized products over advanced functionality."

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

The report, Routes to Roam: Convergence in the Mobile Core, is available as part of an annual subscription (12 monthly issues) to Unstrung Insider, priced at $1,350. Individual reports are available for $900. To subscribe, please visit: www.unstrung.com/insider.

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