Verizon Pushes the Mobile PBX

Verizon Enterprise Solutions is taking another shot at the mobile PBX, saying it's got an easier way for enterprises to add the capabilities. (See Verizon Enhances FMC.)

Using a software system from BlackBerry 's Ascendent Systems , enterprises can have their mobile and fixed devices work seamlessly together with one phone number without installing any additional hardware.

Verizon had first announced these fixed/mobile convergence powers at NXTcomm in June 2007. (See Verizon Intros FMC.) But that version was hardware-based, which made the mobile PBX features hard to install and sometimes prohibitively expensive.

Now that enterprises can add mobile PBX capabilities with a software upgrade, Verizon thinks the idea will catch on a lot more.

"The majority of our customers expected this version to come out, so some of them have held off until now," says Kelly Brown, group manager, emerging services product marketing for Verizon Business.

Any enterprise that already has a PBX server installed on its premises can add the mobile PBX capabilities. Features include having one phone number to ring all wireless and landline devices, the ability to seamlessly transfer a call from a wireline to a wireless device, and an online system where users can manage all of their devices.

One additional perk is that users can add any mobile device to the PBX server regardless of the wireless network that it runs on.

Verizon says the ability to run mobile devices from AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), and others has piqued the interest of a few college campuses. Colleges have been looking for ways to better issue notifications to students, and since many arrive to campus with mobile phones from all different providers, the Verizon mobile PBX could be of practical use to them.

In addition to converting from a hardware- to a software-based platform, Verizon is adding more capabilities to its own BlackBerry devices that will run on the PBX servers. For example, its BlackBerries will add a pull-down menus for managing a user's devices, something that's already available on its landline phones.

Brown says there's a security angle, too, because when a call is placed on the BlackBerry, it will authenticate with the PBX.

Initially, the new mobile PBX capabilities will be available in the U.S. only, but Verizon says it has plans for international versions.

— Raymond McConville, Reporter, Light Reading

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