There are things that make sense in theory but don't quite work out in real life. In other cases, plans indeed become reality. Happily for its proponents, the latter scenario increasingly looks to be the case for fixed mobile convergence (FMC).
There isn't an actual payoff in this press release describing a study -- Fixed Mobile Convergence in the Enterprise -- released last week by the Aberdeen Group. The release begins by saying organizations that have deployed FMC enjoy better employee performance and workforce efficiencies. These statements are not quantified in the release. Of course, people pay good money -- very good money -- for those numbers, so an analyst firm shouldn't be blamed for not including them. Despite the release, the sense is that FMC works for companies that employ it.
The report says that "best-in-class" organizations -- which never are defined -- invested 75 percent more than other organizations in FMC-related mobility and saw that mobility increase 55 percent, presumably all during the past year. The mobility increase was more than four times the increase experienced by other organizations. It's possible to infer from these numbers that these businesses enjoyed greater success because of the added mobility.
The news for FMC also is good in a report also released last week by Infonetics Research. The firm's study -- FMC Equipment, Phones, and Subscribers -- says that the equipment market, unlicensed multimedia access (UMA) network controllers and multi-access convergence gateways grew five-fold from 2006 to last year and will grow by a factor of 10 between 2007 and 2011. The growth is mainly driven by roll outs by T-Mobile USA here and Orange in Europe.
Perhaps some of the success is due to the expansive, all-inclusive nature of FMC. Late last month, UC Strategies released a white paper looking at various available options. The subtext of the paper is that FMC is very flexible. The paper deals with the basic question of why FMC is a good idea. In the final analysis, the writer gives advice that makes sense in virtually any technology purchase: Planners must understand what users want and be aware that the approach can cost more than others, so a focus on productivity and return on investment is vital.
Much of the optimistic commentary in the Infonetics and Aberdeen reports is dependent, of course, on the business fundamentals involved. In explaining why the landscape is promising, Network World's Tom Nolle makes two assumptions: He paraphrases FCC data to say that despite the introduction of glitzy new services and applications, the amount of money folks spend on communication stays about the same over time. The second point is self-evident but important: If given a choice, service providers will opt for the less expensive means of delivering services.
These two bedrock conditions spell success for FMC. Part of the game plan is to deploy small devices -- picocells and femtocells. In addition to improving coverage, these widgets will allow data to in many cases to eschew costly cellular spectrum in favor of free wireless transport. If the first assumption is correct and the communications pie will remain constant, it becomes impossible to overestimate the importance of cutting costs.