DiVitas, Nokia, and Brightpoint Make a Deal

By Ted Stevenson

October 15, 2007

Distribution accord breaks industry logjam on channel sales of dual-mode handsets.

Today, DiVitas Networks, developer of the first enterprise-focused network convergence solution, today announced a partnership with mobile phone maker Nokia and global distributor of mobile communications devices Brightpoint.

Here's the gist of the announcement: Nokia will take its Eseries dual-mode mobile smartphones to market directly via Brightpoint—as opposed to going through mobile carriers, the traditional mobile-phone distribution channel. Brightpoint, in turn, will offer a bundled solution comprising Eseries handsets and DiVitas's "MMC" network convergence solution.

("MMC," for mobile/mobile convergence, is DiVitas's play on "FMC" or fixed/mobile convergence. See our earlier story on DiVitas for a full explanation.)

According to DiVitas CEO Vivek Khuller, this isn't just another channel partnership alliance, it's a big deal—a breakthrough. Here's why:

Convergence solutions—which route phone calls and other corporate applications over an organization's wireless LAN when devices are within range of that network, but route these services over a cellular mobile network when they're not—are (with one exception we know of) totally dependent on dual-mode (i.e., Wi-Fi/cellular) devices for implementation.

If you're looking to implement the DiVitas solution, for example, "You can buy the DiVitas [Mobile Convergence] appliance either from your favorite wireless LAN reseller or your favorite IP telephony reseller," Khuller told Enterprise VoIPplanet.com. "But today, it's not easy for companies to buy a mobile handset through a channel other than a carrier." And since mobile carriers have been slow to move toward network convergence, they have not made Wi-Fi-enabled handsets available. That's the conundrum potential customers face.

EBay is a possible source, Khuller commented, as is the amorphous international 'gray market,' but most companies shy away from these sorts of solutions.

"Enterprises want to buy from a legit place;" Khuller said. "They want it to be supported; they want someone to be accountable if things don't work; they want to be able to return things if they are not working. So you have to create a legitimate channel. That is what we have done—and it is huge."

Khuller was fulsome in his praise of Nokia and Brightpoint. "It's pretty gutsy on the part of Brightpoint to work with us. It is very gutsy on the part of Nokia to work with us," he commented. "That’s why they're leaders."

For Nokia, in Khuller's view, this deal truly represents a new frontier. "Nokia realized the carriers really don't have the kind of influence over the enterprise channel they do over the consumer channel," he said. "So Nokia, as a company, made a strategic decision to go to market directly—or through an alternative—for the enterprise Eseries response."

Still, Khuller thinks, the mobile carriers ought to be embracing this market.

DiVitas's Mobile Convergence solution mobilizes not only enterprise PBX and directory services, but instant messaging and presence services as well. "If I can mobilize those four applications under the control of the enterprise—because the enterprise likes to track and monitor these apps," Khuller said, "—and if I can help put a mobile phone in people's pockets, and these people now see a reason to adopt a data plan much more than they did before (because now it's not just for e-mail, it's for all these other things), this gives carriers a tremendous up side in making their data service much more valuable—and finally working with us. Eventually, they're going to 'get it,' " he concluded.

"In our first year and a half, our major accomplishment as a company was to be able to implement seamless handoff [between cellular and Wi-Fi connections] and enterprise features without depending on a carrier," Khuller told VoIPplanet.com. "So now we've done the gee-whiz technology stuff, but if someone wants our solution, where does he get it? That is what we are solving now.

"So, it's not only about technology at the end of the day; it's also about business. And companies like ours are thinking about it holistically and we're actually doing something about it."



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