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Monday, May 22, 2006

Siemens... mixed messages on FMC

I'm at the Siemens Industry Analyst Conference in Munich at the moment.

Some interesting stuff, and a big focus on both FMC and IMS. I've got some more detailed one-on-one meetings tomorrow, but it seems to me that there are two sides to the story.

The Carrier division seems (to me at least), still pretty much focused on mainstream operators in mobile and fixed domains. Not a big surprise, as these tend to be the players with the big capex budgets, but I thought that a lot of the stories around IMS, beyond-3G radio networks and mobile TV seems to be a bit catering too much to carriers' wishful thinking.

I asked a couple of representatives questions along the lines of "well, that's a great pitch, but when do you think that massmarket phones will be available to take advantage of XYZ? (such as MBMS-based Mobile TV, for example). I got the same time "Well, what normally happens is that the networks get deployed & the handset guys lag a while longer,but will have to sort it out, as carriers will push them". Hmmmm. Given my research on IMS handsets, these sort of assumptions on devices tend to be overoptimistic to begin with, so I hate to think what the reality will be like. I can't see a sub-$150 MBMS-phone with decent battery life (ie suitable for a typical prepay subscriber) emerging before 2010 or later.

On the other hand, the enterprise group seems pretty clued-up on devices. They talked about dual-mode, commenting that they'd been trying out a new Windows-powered WLAN/cellular PDA from Fujitsu Siemens, but were also pushing hard on HTC/Qtek devices, looking at a Nokia Symbian E-Series port, and also considering Linux.

They also had a slide with a mobility management appliance, controlled by the enterprise itself to help "control mobility costs", by enabling least-cost-routing over VoWLAN. This caused much consternation among some US analysts, unused to the idea of a corporation buying "vanilla" phones & sticking any-old-SIM from any-old-operator into them. They wouldn't divulge whose Mobility appliance they were using, but after meeting DiVitas at the Wireless Event last week, it seems a remarkably similar proposition..... Siemens has even been thinking about the thorny issue of dealing with SMS-over-WLAN (probably with an SMS-IM gateway), which seems to have come as a nasty surprise to some of the less European-centric IP-PBX vendors.

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