NEC and Motorola team on wireless voice and data

By , IDG News Service |  Mobile & Wireless

Motorola Inc. and NEC America Inc. are teaming up to offer an infrastructure that lets enterprise employees use one wireless phone with one number both in the office and while on the road, enjoying corporate calling features such as dialing by extension.

The phones will use VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) over wireless LANs (WLANs) and also work as cell phones. Server-based call control software from Motorola, called Mobility Manager, will handle a seamless handoff between the wireless LAN and the cellular network so employees can continue calls when they enter or leave the office, according to Nicholas Labun, vice president of Motorola's wireless LAN seamless mobility business.

Through integration with NEC's PBX (private branch exchange) platforms and a managed WLAN infrastructure that the companies also are working on together, the phones will be able to take advantage of some PBX features both inside and outside the office. Employees also could get access to internal company applications such as calendars, directories and e-mail on the devices when they are on the wireless LAN, Labun said.

The system will consist of an NEC PBX with VoIP capability, the Mobility Manager software, the WLAN infrastructure and the handsets. The deal is non-exclusive and is an extension of a Motorola strategy that kicked off with an earlier agreement with Avaya Inc. and Proxim Inc., Labun said. Motorola, in Schamburg, Illinois, is working with more than one major PBX and WLAN vendor because there are large installed bases of different systems in place, sometimes two within one corporation, he said.

The handsets all will be equipped with Texas Instruments Inc. chips that support IEEE 802.11a, b and g wireless LAN connectivity, but they may come in a variety of models that work with different kinds of wireless LANs to match up with companies' existing infrastructures, he said. Likewise, depending on which mobile operators want to support the system, handsets may be equipped with iDEN (Integrated Digital Enhanced Network), GSM/GPRS (Global System for Mobile Communication/General Packet Radio Service) or CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access).

The handheld device will be designed primarily for voice but will have greater data capabilities than typical current cell phones, Labun said. It will be based on Microsoft Corp.'s Windows CE operating system, according to Paul Weismantel, director of enterprise solutions at NEC America, an Irving, Texas, affiliate of Japan's NEC Corp. Labun would not confirm that detail and said the companies have not yet announced what operating system the device will run.

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