Siemens bonds mobility with unified communications

Tim Greene
23 Oct 2008

New software from Siemens supports mobile phones that can connect to cellular and Wi-Fi networks and transition calls between the two to save on cellular bills by taking advantage of corporate wireless networks and public hotspots.

The OpenScape Mobility software consists of a unified communications client, and upgrades to its wireless LAN (WLAN) access point and its fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) call-control appliance that coordinates the handoffs between wired, cellular and Wi-Fi networks. (Compare unified communications products.)

With OpenScape Mobility, dual-mode wireless handsets become corporate PBX extensions that are able to move among Wi-Fi access points and between WLANs and commercial cellular networks.

The OpenScape UC Mobile Client can switch modes as a user moves in and out of networks. It support Windows Mobile versions 5 and 6, Research in Motion and Symbian operating systems, and iPhone support has been worked out but is not ready yet for general release, the company says.

The client gives access to voice, conferencing, instant messaging, Wi-Fi and cellular networks, but relies on e-mail platforms made by other vendors.

It also protects calls via public Wi-Fi networks with a VPN tunnel. So if a phone making a cellular call moves into range of a public Wi-Fi access point, it automatically creates a VPN tunnel back to the FMC controller through which the call can be switched securely.

HiPath WLAN 802.11n access point upgrades enable operating both of the radios within the device simultaneously without exceeding the 12.95 watts allowed under power-over-Ethernet (PoE) standards. The alternative would be using one radio at a time or using a proprietary PoE scheme. Bluesocket is the only other Wi-Fi vendor that supports this feature within the standards.

Controllers for the access points have also been upgraded to share call-state information with other controllers so if one fails, another can back it up. With the upgrade, the controllers can apportion bandwidth per access point or per user.

HiPath MobileConnect FMC call controller upgrades enable the VPN connections to mobile clients. MobileConnect can now be deployed in hot-standby groups so if a primary MobileConnect fails, the backup kicks in.

Mobile Connect also supports advanced call features including three-way conferencing call transfers, hold and mute.

OpenScape Mobility is an add-on feature of Siemens OpenScape Unified Communications server. The server is the core component of OpenScape mobility as well as other applications including VoIP, video, messaging and contact center.

OpenScape Mobility is available now and Siemens says it will announce pricing soon. The company plans to sell bundles of software and licenses.

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