Avaya and Nokia have launched a dual-mode softphone client for Eseries handsets.
The Avaya one-X Mobile Dual Mode Edition allows a user to connect through their office-based Avaya PBX from an Eseries phone, with the call routed either through the mobile network or a local Wi-Fi connection. Such an offering is particularly useful for employees working abroad because it avoids high mobile-roaming costs.
The client falls within Avaya's "unified communications" strategy, in that it enables one contact number to be used for both fixed and mobile communications. It uses the session initiation protocol (SIP) capabilities of the Eseries phones, with E60, E61 and E70 handsets currently supported. According to Roger Jones, Avaya EMEA's convergence business development director, Nseries devices cannot handle the client as "those phones' SIP stacks aren't optimised for real-time voice".
Jones suggested that Avaya's client had an advantage over similar offerings from BT (under its Fusion brand) in that it was based on the user's corporate PBX rather than the operator's network. He also claimed that its ability to retain PBX functionality — such as call transfer, conferencing and so on — in both Wi-Fi and GSM modes gave it an edge over competitors such as Cisco and Alcatel, whose clients concentrate solely on Wi-Fi.
However, one of the holy grails of so-called fixed/mobile convergence (FMC) is the seamless handoff between Wi-Fi and GSM, so that a call is not dropped while switching from one to the other. The one-X Mobile Dual Mode Edition currently requires the user to respond to a prompt in order to make that switchover but, according to Jones, a seamless option will be made available later this year.
"We will be bringing out a point upgrade [with that option] to the client somewhere around the end of November," said Jones. "But, having talked to 100 or more customers, very few of them really want seamless roaming." He explained that seamless handoff might be a costly option for users when they are in another country, bearing in mind the fact that most people would want to know when their calls start to be charged at international roaming rates.
The upgrade will also bring compatibility with Nokia's other Eseries handsets, the E61i and E65. Windows Mobile devices will remain unsupported for now, although Avaya does have a cellular-only FMC client for such handsets. Avaya also offers a workaround to connect BlackBerry smartphones to Avaya PBXs, but not as an official client.
Avaya one-X Mobile Dual Mode Edition is available now as a free download, although it will not work without a valid Avaya PBX licence.