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Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC) got a big push last week as Nokia (News – Alert) announced it would be working with Cisco to combine productivity across PBXs and wireless devices. Per the announcement, Nokia’s Intellisync Call Connect for Cisco promises to combine Cisco’s wireless LANs and Unified Communications Manager with Nokia’s E-series mobile devices, including the recently released E61i smartphone. Thus the company plans to enable the extension of all the functions of a company’sPBX  to the end user’s mobile device.

The addition of Cisco to the Nokia portfolio builds upon the Swedish mobile giant’s business mobility solutions. In addition to support for Cisco, Nokia E61i, Nokia E65, and alldual-mode Nokia Eseries devices will support the full range of Nokia business voice solutions, including Nokia Intellisync Call Connect for Alcatel andAvaya ( News – Alert) One-X.

According to Antti Vasara, senior vice president, Mobile Devices Unit, Enterprise Solutions, Nokia, “Nearly 40 percent of all business cellular users’ time is spent away from their desks or primary work areas, and nearly 50 percent of this is on-premises. The importance of sophisticated mobile business devices that offer a superior user experience will only increase as businesses implement mobile e-mail across a wider employee base, and at the same time begin to mobilize additional high ROI mobility solutions such as business voice and other corporate applications.”

Nokia will sell through enterprise channels to businesses, and will leverage Cisco’s channel partners to deliver the solution to enterprises.
Aruba Networks is also making waves in the FMC space, announcing two new software products. First, Mobile Access Point (News – Alert) is designed to enable enterprise connectivity and follow-me security by enabling role-based user access controls, stateful firewall and split-tunneling in Aruba access points. The second new offering, HotelConnect, is designed to afford road warriors access to hotel Internet connections using dual-mode phones, PDAs, and other devices that would otherwise be blocked by the hotel’s billing system.

Security is a key feature of the Aruba solution. According to the announcement, Aruba’s mobility solutions associate security and access policies with individual users instead of ports. Carrying this follow-me security concept forward, the policies enforced by the new Mobile Access Point firewall mirror those enforced by the corporate Aruba Mobility Controller.

Travelers to hotels and other locations regulated by captive portals have previously been unable to use WiFi enabled dual-mode telephones, PDAs, or other non-PC devices to connect to the portal-protected network. Aruba’s HotelConnect feature remedies this situation by registering with the portal and allowing any authorized device to be used just as it would in the corporate office. Uses are varied, and include data access,VoIP , streaming video delivery, and Skype (News – Alert) and video conference calls. To optimize local traffic flow, the software’s split-tunneling feature directs only corporate traffic back to the Mobility Controller, while Internet access and printer traffic remain local.

A recent Reuters report out of Amsterdam surmised that “It will be years before the much-hyped blending of services that run seamlessly over both fixed and cell phone networks will allow consumers to communicate freely on any device.”

While hurdles still exist, it’s encouraging to see vendors making strides and educating enterprise buyers about the possibilities and benefits inherent in FMC.

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