Moto Ramps Up Convergence

Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) is targeting a commercial launch date of “later this summer” for its dualmode WLAN/GSM phone, as the vendor cranks up efforts in the convergence space.

In July last year Motorola announced plans for the formation of an industry group aimed at standardizing some of the work it had carried out with Avaya Inc. (NYSE: AV) and Proxim Corp. (Nasdaq: PROX) on improving the handoff times between wireless LAN and cellular networks (see Trio Plots Roaming Accord).

The group is now known as the SCCAN Forum (Seamless Converged Communication Across Networks) and has been joined by Chantry Networks Inc., Colubris Networks Inc., Meru Networks Inc., and 2Wire Inc. Motorola and Avaya say they are trialing a dualmode WLAN/GSM phone developed by Motorola called CN620, which can be used with a centralized WLAN controller and lightweight access points, co-developed by group members.

“CN620 is our enterprise seamless mobility solution currently in early introduction trials,” says Jim Wojnarowski, director of industry standards and technical marketing at Motorola, and the vendor’s representative at SCCAN. “The next step at the conclusion of the trials will be to take feedback we have learned, make the last few and final tune-ups to the system, and then enter the commercial marketplace in a much larger way... We expect it to be later this summer.”

Wojnarowski declined to reveal specific details of the trials, but a spokesman for Avaya confirmed that developments are underway in the U.S.

No date has yet been set for official release of a convergence standard from the SCCAN Forum. “We have some initial draft documents we are using to set the stage for any future spec evolution and development... It will depend upon traction in the marketplace.”

Motorola’s man is, however, keen to point out that future users will not need to buy into the entire system in order to take full advantage of the VOWLAN roaming. Wojnarowski says that work on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE)'s 802.11e standard, due for approval later this year, “will move things forward from the standpoint of allowing standards-based access points to offer all the capabilities we need for our system.

“Our plan, along with Avaya and Proxim, has always been to allow customers to mix and match system components so that they can all interoperate with each other. Up until now we have just been in the position of being a little bit ahead of the industry, which is why we had what you might call ‘pre-standard’ developments in the market.”

As well as its role in the SCCAN Forum, Motorola has also been busy talking up recent convergence work in the Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) space, trialing kit with seven European carriers (see Moto Trials UMA and Moto Boosts Kineto).

Incorporated in the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) cellular specifications, the basic idea of UMA is that mobile network operators can extend the coverage and capacity of their networks by using unlicensed local-area access networks, such as wireless LAN and Bluetooth.

The user, equipped with a dualmode cellular/WLAN handset, can make calls across any generic wireless LAN and IP network, with the call and signaling data encapsulated in secure IP tunnels. These tunnels terminate on an access gateway, which processes and passes call data to the circuit-switched or packet-switched mobile core network (see Convergence Specs Emerge and The Third Way of Convergence).

“Nobody should infer from the UMA activities that they really have any relationship or bearing on our SCCAN activities,” comments Wojnarowski, backing both of Moto's horses in the convergence race. “UMA is a different approach to trying to solve the same kind of problem. That approach takes cellular technology and network capabilities and tries to bring them inside a building… SCCAN is trying to take your enterprise telephony experience on the inside of your workplace and bring that to the outside cellular world... The market place is very young. Not one of these approaches is dominant or will necessarily supercede the other. We are happy to participate in both.”

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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