App cuts cellular costs, adds link to unified communications

By , Network World |  Mobile & Wireless, Unified Communications, wifi

Agito's latest version of its cellular wireless LAN convergence software promises still more savings in mobile calling costs for corporate users.

The 3.0 software for Agito's RoamAnywhere Mobility Router and companion handset client application uses several tricks to sidestep premium cellular costs, especially for international calling or when traveling overseas. And improved Wi-Fi efficiency makes Agito-equipped dual-mode cell phones more at home on Wi-Fi networks, so users can shift more calls from a cellular to a WLAN connection.

Agito also can now tie into third-party unified communications/presence servers, such as Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 or Avaya one-X Mobile. Both mobile and desktop users can quickly see each other's presence and status on the network (including whether the user is at home, in the office or in transit), and select from a variety of ways to communicate with each other.

Agito's handset code and appliance-based server application  integrate with PBX and UC servers to extend enterprise telephony features to both standard cell phones and Wi-Fi-enabled cell phones. Unifying communications, cutting cellular costs and lassoing cell phones into enterprise infrastructures are some of the reasons why such products are gaining customers.  

Last September, the vendor introduced VoIP encryption for enterprise calls made over a WLAN.  

The mobile savings are made possible by a quartet of new features, generally aimed at international and overseas roaming charges. Such calls may be only a fraction of a company's total usage, but because of their high fees can account for a disproportionate share of total costs.

One feature automatically routes direct-dialed international cellular calls through the enterprise PBX, creating a much less-expensive landline call to the recipient.

Another, called Automatic Reverse Dialing, is applicable in Europe and Asia where the calling party pays for his and the recipient's mobile minutes. Agito slashes those charges by in effect starting the mobile call from the enterprise PBX (the Agito server calls back both parties). Agito says the feature often can save 50% or more on such charges.

Other cost-saving features:

* Automatically making the most of carrier services such as free mobile-to-mobile calls or "On-Net" calling.

* Letting users swap their phone's enterprise SIM card for a local pre-paid SIM card when overseas, while the RoamAnywhere Router continues to treat the new phone number as if it were the old one: the SIM swap is transparent to the caller.

One goal of convergence software is to offload traffic from cellular networks to WLANs where possible. The 3.0 version makes this more efficient: Agito optimized its Wi-Fi connectivity to create much longer talk time over WLANs; and it tweaked roaming algorithms to make these connections stronger and cleaner.

The new support for UC and presence servers, such as Microsoft OCS, is Agito's attempt to extend the idea of presence from static desktop clients to mobile clients, says Pejman Roshan, Agito vice president of marketing and product. The Agito router, on behalf of mobile users, connects to the OCS (or other) presence server, and manages presence buddy list and controls the flow of presence data to and from the mobile phones.

In the 3.0 release, the Agito presence application on the handset shows in color-coded lists the status of all enterprise users linked to the presence server, including indicators of their location, such as home or office. You can see who's online, whether the person is in a meeting or on a call, and decide whether to contact someone via voice, instant message, Short Message Service or e-mail. The software will also show mobile users' presence information to desktop users automatically, with no Agito code needed on the PC.

The new Agito client application is specifically designed to put as little load as possible on the handset's CPU and battery. Roshan says that rival mobile presence clients are typically scaled down versions of the vendor's PC-based client, often resulting in high demands on a handset's limited resources.

In the case of OCS, Agito can download automatically the entire buddy list from the server, eliminating the tedious job of adding each user one at a time to the handset.

With the 3.0 release, Agito als supports Palm Treo Pro, Samsun Mirage, Sony Experia X! and HP iPaq 910, as well as several new models to its existing Nokia and HTC portfolio. The vendor added two new PBX platforms to its existing roster: Alcatel-Lucent OminiPCX Enterprise and ShoreTel ShoreGear.

Agito faces plenty of rivals for the enterprise fixed-mobile convergence business: DeVitas, Siemens and Tango; a somewhat different approach from Research in Motion with its Mobile Voice System; and still another approach from vendors such as Kineto, which sells software to enable carriers such as T-Mobile to offer a network-based service to move calls between Wi-Fi and cellular connections.

Pricing for the RoamAnywhere product starts at $9,995 for the 2000 Series (for 25 to 100 active users), and at $27,495 for the 4000 series (from 100 to 1,000 active users).  

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