DiVitas opens up its cell-to-Wi-Fi gateway

Mobile Convergence Appliance makes cellular and VoIP a more viable combo than InfoWorld and swimsuits

A comparative operation: InfoWorld and Sports Illustrated:

Sports Illustrated's target audience: sports fans.

InfoWorld's target audience: IT workers

SI's target content: sports news

IW's target content: geek news

SI's readership: Mostly men; most think Apple ads are cool and so buy iPods

IW's readership: Mostly men; most think Apple ads are dorky but buy iPods anyway

I ask you then: Why shouldn't InfoWorld rake in huge gobs of cash once a year with a completely off-target triple-sized bikini issue? Is it just me? How is the fortuitous pairing of a Hawaii ANCL Lab test and advertising cash cow not a good idea? Man, I am smart! I'll stop now, but it's February, so it had to be said.

Just like my slight bashing of T-Mobile International CEO Hamid Akhavan on last week's InfoWorld LIVE! Web radio show. This guy goes on record saying that VoIP on cell phones isn't going to be a big deal. Yeah, probably not this year, but only because cell phone operators are going to work hard and long to make sure it doesn't. VoIP doesn't help telecom operators the same way that MP3s don't help record companies. It's coming. They can't stop it, but they're going to do their best to delay it as long as possible.

So in the meantime, if you're looking to garner the benefits of VoIP on a corporate cell phone fleet, you're looking at a DIY project. Fortunately, that just became doable with DiVitas Networks' announcement that its oft hinted at but rarely seen cell-to-VoIP gateway is actually going to emerge into the light of the everyday.

The DiVitas MCA (Mobile Convergence Appliance) is a rack-based gateway device that not only would look good with a bikini-wearing supermodel next to it, but also works with your existing PBX to manage conversational hand-offs from compatible cell networks to your Wi-Fi VoIP network. All you need is the MCA and a dual-mode cell phone fleet that has Wi-Fi capability. The MCA is more than just a cell-to-wireless VoIP gateway, however. It's an end-to-end wireless VoIP management device that makes using that technology in a building or campus setting not only smoother but easier to manage, too.

We had DiVitas deploy an early version of the MCA at the ANCL Lab over the summer, and the technology worked fairly well. The device was still in early beta at the time, so there were some hiccups, but more than six months later, it's ready to go. I've a feeling we're going to be seeing more attention paid to wireless VoIP in business settings this year, but the MCA is a good indicator of where those offerings will be going.

The key benefit these devices will deliver is ease of management. Remember, the trick with wireless VoIP is network management. Whereas with data over wireless, all you really need is a link light, for voice, you've got to get significantly more granular. Signal strength becomes a real big deal, as does roaming. This coming year, devices like DiVitas' MCA are going to take those chores and make them invisible. You can look for similar features from straight enterprise wireless networking vendors like Trapeze Networks, too.

Now I think you should all buckle down and send us e-mails in support of the first InfoWorld Digital Diva swimsuit issue.