Voice-Over-WLAN Service Launched

Irish fixed-line operator Talktelecom Ltd. has launched a commercial voice-over-wireless-LAN (VOWLAN) service, breathing further life into the concept of fixed-mobile convergence in Europe.

The service is a coup for Irish startup Cicero Networks Ltd. It marks the first commercial deployment of Cicero's equipment, and is touted as the first launch of a VOWLAN service by a European wireline carrier (see Talktelecom Deploys Cicero).

“We reached an agreement with Cicero last summer and now have all the technology in and working,” Jonathan Mills, Talktelecom CEO, tells Unstrung.

With a total customer base of “between 5 and 6,000 users,” Mills states that so far Talktelecom has signed up “about 30 companies and 100 overall corporate users” for the VOWLAN service.

“The barriers to market at this point are simply the availability of devices. It’s a little bit of a waiting game until someone comes along with a mass market device. We expected this though. I believe that commercial applications will take off early next year… It doesn’t take a lot of thinking to realise that if you can make mobile calls at cheap landline rates then you are going to save money. We are pretty comfortable that once the devices are available these things will sell fast.”

Founded in 2002 and with a headcount of just 20, today’s announcement by Cicero helps validate its attempts to target the fixed-line operator market with a voice offering that allows users to bypass cellular networks (see Is There a Convergence Crunch? and The Third Way of Convergence).

“We have upgraded Talktelecom to the new version of our kit, and we are also in trials with other operators across Europe,” says VP of marketing, Elaine Treacy (see Cicero Unveils VOWLAN Kit).

Privately funded with non-disclosed seed investment from a number of Irish companies, Treacy adds that the startup is “in the process of raising further investment.”

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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