BT targets enterprises with converged phone services

BT said Wednesday it will offer enterprises an IP-based phone network services by early 2007 with features similar to PBX networks.

BT Group said Wednesday it will offer enterprises IP-based phone network services by early 2007 with features similar to PBX (private-branch exchange) networks.

The project, called Enterprise FMC, is a larger scale version of BT's Fusion service, launched in June 2005. BT Fusion, targeted at consumers and small businesses, uses a Bluetooth connection for broadband calls that are about 50 percent cheaper than landline calls, a BT spokesman said.

BT said larger enterprises are increasingly demanding so-called converged services, which combine Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and broadband connections for cheaper and more mobile voice and data services.

BT contracted with Alcatel to build the infrastructure for the service, which will allow companies to deploy dual-mode Wi-Fi GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) phones, the BT spokesman said. Manufacturers are due to release those phones later this year.

When in range, those phones can use a cheaper Wi-Fi connection for VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) calls while also switching to the mobile network.

BT said the service's "intelligent routing" feature can link information stored in a device, such as a calendar, and forward calls when, for example, a person is in a meeting.

The new service will first be available in the U.K., with plans to expand it to France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands, the spokesman said.

Enterprise FMC is part of BT's 21st Century Network, a massive overhaul of the company's telecommunication infrastructure scheduled for completion by 2010. BT is investing about £10 billion ($US17 billion) in the project.

So far, Cambridge, England, has completed the upgrade, and Cardiff, Wales, should be complete later this year, BT said.

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