Optical/IP Networks

FMCA Waffles on Convergence

The Fixed-Mobile Convergence Alliance (FMCA) is on the charm offensive once again, talking up its new recruits and touting promises to promote and push convergence products in the market.

Launched in July last year, the marketing -- ahem -- industry group today added a further seven carriers to its operator alliance. New recruits include Cesky Telecom a.s., PCCW Ltd. (NYSE: PCW; Hong Kong: 0008), Telecom New Zealand Ltd., and Telkom South Africa (see Carriers Join FMCA).

These names join founder members BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), Brasil Telecom SA, KT Corp., NTT Communications Corp., Rogers Wireless Communications Inc. (NYSE: RCN; Toronto: RCM), and Swisscom AG in an attempt to “promote convergence products and accelerate market adoption.” [Ed. note: Yep, definitely a marketing body then.] (See BT Talks Up FMCA.)

But how does the FMCA fit in with the glut of convergence options under consideration by vendors and operators? (See Mobile's Core Competence, The Convergence Contenders, and The Third Way of Convergence.)

“We are going to issue product requirement definitions for UMA, SIP, and Bluetooth CTP by mid to late 2005,” says Ryan Jarvis, chairman of the FMCA and chief of convergence products at BT.

Jarvis claims the FMCA will set out its own product specifications for each convergence standard, and it will be up to equipment vendors to adhere to these guidelines. “We will be producing our product requirements through several standard organizations and then getting products certified... It’s very much a collaborative approach. It’s about influencing the vendor community so they build what the carriers actually want.”

To date, the FMCA has signed up a total of 17 carriers. “We are still talking to other telcos. The MOU [Memorandum of Understanding] is with 19 other telcos, and we are going to get a lot of carriers beyond 17.”

Although the majority of signed carriers provide both fixed and mobile services, the alliance is notably lacking a Tier 1 wireless-only name. “At the moment we don’t have a major mobile-only, but we hope to get probably two by the end of the year,” Jarvis insists.

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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