Confusion, Ambivalence Mar FMC Adoption Cycle

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No matter how good a concept fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) is, it won't gain traction unless the business objectives of the suppliers, vendors and other members of the ecosystem align. There is fuzziness around the concept, and even an honest attempt at a definition leaves a good deal of ambiguity.


Overcoming that challenge leads to another that is perhaps even more significant: It isn't necessarily in carriers' best interests to implement FMC. The coalescing of two networks may seem elegant to end users, but it means that there will be one network less for vendors and service providers to make money on. In-Stat says that wireless carriers see FMC as a "contra-revenue threat." Without going too deeply into accounting nomenclature, the use of the term suggests this is not a platform carriers are likely to be falling over themselves to create.


The lack of confidence in the future of FMC, at least from the business point of view, seems to underscore the assessment of lead analyst David Lamelin. He suggests that applications will experience "viral adoption" during the next few years. Viral marketing can be a potent way to push a brand of sneakers or a new band. The question this raises is whether service providers will transform their infrastructure and marketing strategies based on something this tentative.


The headline of this Network World piece -- "Is Fixed-Mobile Convergence Worth the Bother?" -- aptly sums up the writer's attitude. The piece says there is significant disagreement on the meaning of FMC. In addition to such confusion, which is anathema to proactive deployment decisions, other impediments to FMC include the fact that many of the benefits can be accomplished with less extreme means. Another roadblock is that there often are tasks higher on enterprises' list of priorities. The bottom line is that IT departments and decision makers have ample reasons to stall. And, when given this option, CIOs and CFOs generally will take it.


This post at TMCnet.com looks at FMC adoption both in the enterprise and by consumers. The writer says FMC holds some value, but many of the advantages it offers can be duplicated by other means -- many of which are less expensive and/or are less complex than FMC. A "more productive approach" is for IT to figure out precisely what employees need and provide it in a piecemeal fashion, taking advantage of the best technology for that particular challenge.


More reticence about FMC could come from the point that while the base technology is ready, other vital pieces of the puzzle are not. IT Week suggests that the management and security tools necessary to support FMC are not yet ready. Ironically, the problem is that the new platforms are so very flexible and malleable that management and security haven't caught up.


When seen from the application side, FMC can be summed up with some accuracy as the ability to use mobile devices to do just about anything. The problem for its proponents is that there are multiple ways to achieve this goal. This leads to confusion. And confused executives sit on the sidelines and patiently wait until the dust settles -- if indeed it does.