Cicero launches Symbian dual-mode client

CiceroPhone makes it easy for Nokia E-series users to make phone calls over Wi-Fi instead of a mobile network

Dublin-based Cicero Networks has released a softphone client which enables dual-mode connectivity on Symbian phones.

The voice over IP (VoIP) client, called CiceroPhone, is currently compatible with Nokia's E-series phones, although other Symbian devices may soon be able to support it. The client will be released through operator partnerships — the details of which are currently being negotiated.

Dual-mode devices are able to route calls either through an office or home Wi-Fi connection — thus saving call costs — or through a standard cellular connection.

According to Cicero's chief executive officer, Ross Brennan, CiceroPhone is a step up from the E-series' native SIP [Session Initiation Protocol — an application-layer VoIP protocol] client in that it automatically makes the device aware of which connections are available and can thus route the call through the most cost-effective channel without the user having to choose their connection.

It is also more targeted at "transferring the call from Wi-Fi to cellular as you move out of the office," Brennan explained on Thursday.

Another option for fixed-mobile convergence is being pushed by companies such as Private Mobile Networks. It gives customers a picocell, or small GSM cellular transmitter, to install on their premises, thus offering reduced costs by setting up a low-powered private network.

Brennan acknowledged that this solution may be attractive because it does not require users to purchase Wi-Fi-capable handsets, but maintained that "people don't want to have a base station in their office or their home" due to ongoing concerns about health effects.

He also suggested that Wi-Fi-enabled dual-mode devices offered greater integration with a company's private branch exchange (PBX).

Although the CiceroPhone client is now available for Nokia's E-series handsets, preliminary testing has been completed on N-series compatibility, and work on other Symbian-based devices such as Sony Ericsson's high-end UIQ phones is forthcoming, Brennan told ZDNet UK. A version for Windows Mobile-based devices is already available.

Another VoIP service for E-series phones was also launched last month by Aql, although that service is not designed to seamlessly switch between Wi-Fi and cellular connections.

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