Agito brings WLAN VoIP to the BlackBerry

Techworld –

Agito Networks said that it has stolen a march on the rest of the industry after launching a product that can deliver both VoIP and unified communications via Wi-Fi to users of RIM's BlackBerry handsets.

Agito is best known for its RoamAnywhere mobility router which is an appliance that lets dual-mode phones connect to the company's PBX over Wi-Fi and act as extensions. It uses location technology to determine when to hand over between Wi-Fi, IP and cellular networks.

RoamAnywhere has previously only connected to Nokia (Symbian) and Windows Mobile devices, allowing those handsets to hold, conference, or transfer a call, as well as making use of the usual single enterprise number (for both the desktop phone and mobile), voice, directory query and call retrieve, with sub 100 millisecond handover.

Until now, the lack of support for BlackBerry handsets has been a serious oversight considering the handset's dominance in the business sector. Indeed, Gartner says that RIM's OS had the second highest market share based on smart phone sales to end users worldwide in Q1 2009, a position that was maintained from Q1 2008.

But Agito was not to blame for this oversight, as RIM has a 'closed and proprietary' operating system, with 'limited APIs for VoIP and Wi-Fi.'

"We had been a member of RIM's development program for 18 months, but nothing happened," said Pejman Roshan, Agito's co-founder and VP of marketing.

He went on to explain that Agito had got into RIM's development programme because the BlackBerry maker was interested initially in Agito's handover technology, but that RIM had been reluctant to co-operate for fear of offending US mobile operators who wouldn't take kindly to it co-operating with Agito.

"It has been protecting its route to market," Roshan told Techworld.

Therefore, after eighteen months of inaction, Agito took matters into its own hand and developed Agito for BlackBerry by itself.

Agito for BlackBerry is transparent and runs in the background on BlackBerry handsets such as the Bold 9000, Curve 8900, 8800 and Curve 8300. Other handsets will be added depending on customer demand.

"There is no change in how you use the phone, which is a key aspect to it," Roshan said, as he demonstrated the unobtrusive nature of the client software. Indeed, its minimal user interface retains the familiar workflow of the BlackBerry handset, and Agito has been added to the BlackBerry menu.

Mid call capabilities appear in the menu during a call, and Agito for BlackBerry makes use of native facilities of the handset such as contacts, application integration (click to call), voice dial, and speed dial.

According to Roshan, Agito is now the only vendor to extend VoIP, UC and PBX functionality to BlackBerry smart phones over the WLAN and cellular network. BlackBerry users can have deskphone capabilities, integrated security, and RoamAnywhere Dual Persona.

Of course, BlackBerry users have previously been able to access UC and PBX functionality from the likes of Cisco, Avaya, Nortel, and RIM, but only over the cellular network.

"But this is incomplete," said Roshan, "as cellular coverage indoors in is poor, and it relies on the use of cellular minutes instead of Wi-Fi." He pointed out that with a Wi-Fi hotspot, you get much better in-building coverage, but also robust cost savings thanks to reduced cellular minutes used and reduced international roaming costs.

Also while many start-ups such as DiVitas, Varaha etc support dual mode and mobile UC, they do not yet support the BlackBerry.

"Cisco can support the BlackBerry, but it doesn't offer VoIP support," said Roshan. "Right now, we are the only solution to support enterprise grade VoIP over Wi-Fi on the BlackBerry, for at least 12 months. No one is anywhere close."

Pricing for RoamAnywhere still starts at $9,995(£6,0700 for 2000 Series and $27,495(£16,700) for the 4000 Series. RIM BlackBerry support will be available early next month via Agito's channel partners.

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