Symbol's MC70 Handset and Switch Ready for F/MC

By Eric Griffith

November 20, 2006

A deal with Divitas puts the enterprise in control of easy hand-off from Wi-Fi to cellular networks.

Divitas Networks of Mountain View, California launched earlier this year with a dream: to put enterprises in charge of their own fixed/mobile convergence (F/MC). Today, the company announced that Symbol, a partner Divitas has worked with from its inception, is slapping its SymbolPLUS seal of approval on Divitas products. They include Divitas’ Mobile Convergence Appliance and Mobile Convergence Client software for dual-mode handsets. In this case, Symbol has the client running on its own ruggedized Symbol MC70 Enterprise Digital Assistant.

The appliance and the client software were “co-validated” in Symbol's Solutions Validation Program, in tests done at the Symbol Solutions Center.

“Our software gives the MC70 the ability to extend its features on Wi-Fi to a cellular network, and roam seamlessly between the two,” says Divitas CEO Vivek Khuller.

The appliance and software interoperate with Symbol’s WS5100 wireless switch and AP300 access points.

Khuller compares what his company does in comparison to carrier-centric F/MC solutions like Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) to what PBXes do for the enterprise versus a hosted service like Centrex . Both provide services like four-digit calling internally and dialing 9 to get an outside line, among other things, but a PBX is under the control of the enterprise itself. Centrex puts the control functions in the carrier cloud. “If an enterprise needs something, it has to be implemented by the carrier,” Khuller says. He says the perception with Centrex — and a technology like UMA — is that there’s no need for an IT staff to run it.

Khuller thinks most enterprises opt for a PBX — and will opt for Divitas technology on their WLAN — to retain control.

Khuller believes most companies these days are getting cellular phone services from the carriers at a handset level. “That becomes very prohibitively expensive for companies... so look at Symbol, they’ve been in enterprise mobility longer than any company we know of, they have a strong brand. They’ve been traditionally successful in non-carpeted applications,” he says, meaning Wi-Fi applications for enterprise verticals like warehouses, retail and healthcare. “Only verticals could justify the expense of proprietary Wi-Fi that was around until recently.” He expects a turnaround in the “carpeted enterprise” of standard office space for big businesses.

Divitas is working to support all the handsets and handhelds that Symbol has with voice support, including the Wi-Fi-only MC50, plus new models not yet announced. The target is not just the guys on loading docks, but what Khuller calls the “corridor warriors” in the office.

Divitas is still working with other companies, including big names like Nokia. When asked about other handset makers like UTStarcom, Khuller mentioned that the company works as an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) using designs from third-party ODMs (original design manufacturers) and for now, Divitas is concentrating on large equipment makers like Symbol and Nokia. “Once we’re able to saturate and reach a limit, we’ll talk to the ODMs,” says Khuller.

Divitas is targeting more than just Wi-Fi and cellular networks, as its technology is agnostic and will work with wired networks, and even something like a WiMax connection, if the technology is in the handset.

Last week, Symbol announced an upgrade to its WS5100 wireless switch, part of the company’s Wireless Next Generation (Wi-NG) architecture. Version 3.0 enables deployment of APs using Layer 2 or 3 (with L3 mobility as users move from AP to AP) and the clustering of switches. It now sports an IPSec virtual private network (VPN) gateway and intrusion detection.

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