Avaya, Motorola, Proxim to bond Wi-Fi and mobile networks

Avaya Inc., Motorola Inc. and Proxim Corp. Tuesday announced plans to develop the technology and systems required to marry Wi-Fi and cellular telephone networks, allowing users to easily shift voice calls and data transmissions from one network to the other.

The three companies said they jointly develop standards that will support contiguous voice and data service to users across enterprise Wi-Fi wireless LANs, public cellular networks and public-access Wi-Fi hot spots. Schaumburg, Ill.-based Motorola will develop a dual-band Wi-Fi/cellular phone as part of the project. Basking Ridge N.J.-based Avaya will develop Session Initiation Protocol-enabled IP telephony software. And Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Proxim will provide a voice-enabled Wi-Fi infrastructure for the joint project.

Motorola will also create network mobility management components that control the hand-off between local WLANs and cellular networks. And Proxim will provide voice-enabled Wi-Fi WLAN infrastructure, quality-of-service software and centralized management systems to facilitate hand-offs between access points.

Dan Coombes, senior vice president and general manager for Motorola's Network Systems Group, said in a statement that his company believes that "tying together wireless LANs, IP telephony and cellular technologies in a single handset will extend the mobility of the cellular networks inside the enterprise and provide the best available access to the user."

Alan Reiter, an analyst at Wireless Internet & Mobile Computing in Chevy Chase, Md., said this is the first venture he knows of that has attempted to combine voice and data services for both cellular and Wi-Fi networks. Nokia Corp. in Espoo, Finland, has developed PC cards that allow users to switch from cellular to Wi-Fi networks, and Symbol Technologies Inc. in Holtsville, N.Y., sells a voice over IP wireless phone.

Reiter said Green Packet Inc. in Fremont, Calif., has developed software that allows users to easily shunt their data transmissions from Wi-Fi to cellular networks. The company last May introduced mobile IP software that allows users to roam between Wi-Fi and cellular networks.

Reiter said providing both voice and data service across Wi-Fi and cellular networks is "not a trivial task" because it involves developing equipment and standards that work across multiple networks operating under different protocols with different levels of security.

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