Siemens is working with Nokia to polish the handover of voice calls between corporate wireless LANs and public mobile phone networks, a Siemens executive said Wednesday.
Using mobile phones that support both Wi-Fi and GSM, employees can make VoIP calls over the corporate wireless LAN when in the office and use the same phone for mobile calls when elsewhere.
Special software in the phone and on the LAN can also enable seamless handover of calls from one system to the other as users move around, keeping costs down and productivity up. The two companies will work to certify the compatibility of that software in some of their mobility products for enterprise users, said Marcus Birkl, vice president of sales for HiPath Wireless LAN at Siemens.
The products concerned are Nokia's E-series mobile phones for business customers and Siemens' MobileConnect, a fixed-mobile convergence server compatible with its HiPath 8000 SoftSwitch for enterprises or competing products that also use SIP, he said.
At CeBIT, Siemens is demonstrating the handover capabilities of MobileConnect, alongside a new version of its HiPath 8000 software that adds support for the E.num addressing protocol, Asian language scripts, voice encryption, and additional team-working features.
To carry out their work on the Wi-Fi-GSM handover, Nokia will join Siemens' HiPath technical partner program, Birkl said, and will bring some of its phones into Siemens laboratories to conduct interoperability and quality-of-service tests.
So far, Siemens has certified Nokia's E60 phone, which runs the Symbian OS, as compatible with MobileConnect, as well as a phone from another manufacturer, the PocketLoox connected PDA from Fujitsu-Siemens, which runs Microsoft's Windows Mobile 5 software.
Siemens already has two other Nokia phones (the E61 and E70) in its labs and will soon begin work on the E65, set to supersede the E60, and on some of Nokia's N-series multimedia phones for consumers, according to Birkl.
Siemens and Nokia will also investigate how Nokia's Intellisync mobile device management tools can help in downloading the necessary software and remotely configuring the phones to use those apps.
"If you are doing a large installation, you want to do this over the air," Birkl said.
Once the software is on a Symbian phone, getting it to run is relatively easy, he said. However, phones running Windows Mobile 5 behave in subtly different ways, meaning the client software must be adapted for each model, he said.
Siemens is also testing Windows Mobile phones from Taiwanese manufacturer High Tech Computer (HTC), one of the leading supporters of Windows Mobile software, and two from Hewlett-Packard, Birkl said. Although HTC has just released a phone running Windows Mobile 6, Siemens will continue to work with version 5 of the software, he said.
The company is also waiting to see whether Sony Ericsson will release a phone with both GSM and Wi-Fi capabilities.