T-Mobile International will start offering a converged Wi-Fi and cellular service this summer, using network equipment from Nortel Networks.
“The service will first become available in Germany,” said T-Mobile spokesman, Husam Azrak.
Nortel said, “T-Mobile customers will be able to use laptops and PDAs to use services such as video calling, video conferencing and IM even as they move between Wi-Fi and cellular networks. Their connections won’t be dropped as they move between the networks and the customer can use one phone number to be reached regardless of which network they are near.”
The companies are demonstrating the capability, which will work over 3G, EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution), GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) and Wi-Fi, at Cebit, the technology fair.
The service will be geared toward business customers who will be able to use the service to access enterprise applications, T-Mobile said.
“This innovative technology is designed to greatly enhance our customer’s experience by allowing users to roam seamlessly and enjoy a consistent, uninterrupted mobile communications across 3G, EDGE, GPRS and WiFi networks,” said Joachim Horn, technology director at T-Mobile. “The service is designed to enable our customers to access private networks and enterprise applications in a secure environment while on the move, helping to improve productivity and efficiency.”
Operators and vendors have been discussing such converged services recently but few have been commercially launched yet.
BT Group has a service in the UK that allows users to roam from a cellular network onto a Wi-Fi network but it’s limited only to the user’s home Wi-Fi network.
BT and others support a UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access), a technology geared toward enabling mobile operators to offer converged services. T-Mobile’s system will be based on SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), an open standard that can also be used to deliver converged services.