Engineers Love FMC -- But Does the Public?

Carl Weinschenk

The message of this Unstrung piece is that the world of fixed mobile convergence (FMC) has a real problem. Actually, two: FMC is difficult to deploy and it hasn't been proven that anybody really wants it.


These obstacles are on the significant side. Actually, anyone who has been around a while shouldn't be surprised. The promise of FMC is so great -- the ability to send content indiscriminately to any device and to switch agilely between fixed and mobile networks -- that marketers and engineers are smitten. The attraction to people who live this stuff is obvious: FMC will let them do their job better for less money.


The traditional problem -- which is present in this case as well -- is that the public doesn't understand what all the fuss is about. Many people just don't get it. Some do, but they are non-techies who likely are ambivalent. They won't run out and buy converged handsets or subscribe to services until they actually see that it makes their lives better.


That's why it's a good thing that there is an interim approach. Engineers can use the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) to cobble together a hybrid mobile/fixed system. This enables people to experience its benefits without making the carrier commit to the permanent solution -- the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) -- that is more difficult and expensive to deploy. SIP gives smart service providers time to evangelize.


The fate of FMC may rest in how well this evangelism is performed. On the positive side, service providers are dealing with a corporate and consumer public that is far more tech- savvy than even a couple of years ago. The key, it seems, will be for marketing departments to get serious about coming up with a very simple definition of FMC and demonstrate the convenience and reduced costs it will provide.

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