A lot of people think of dual mode with the ‘stigma’ of Fixed Mobile Convergence: where users connect via WiFi then walk into the street and the call is automatically switched over to cellular. Is this world close? Is it a long ways away?

Myth # 3 – Macro-handoff is a long ways away.

Macro-handoff is a long ways away; this myth is true. Macro-handoff is the seamless handoff described as transition from WiFi to cellular environments during a call. Micro-handoff is the transition from WiFi access point to WiFi access point. Well, the big deal has been that the technology is immature, the standards are immature, the devices aren’t ready, and the operator’s aren’t interested. For the most part this myth is still true. However, the milestones are clearly being achieved gradually. Cisco, as recently as early December 2005, demonstrated a macro-handoff [with SIPquest] as part of their IMS strategy showcased at their analyst conference.

Several well-financed telecom startups including BridgePort Networks, NewStep and Stoke Networks are all positioning to deliver call continuity across the WiFi-cellular domain using their mobility engine offers to facilitate the interaction between the client and the various telephony servers inside the operator network. BridgePort Networks was a co-founder of the MobileIGNITE – a cross-industry association dedicated to accelerating Fixed-Mobile Convergence – which continues to gain members month-by-month.

The standards, namely TS23.806 for call continuity is gaining credibility and adoption among feature server vendors, such as Nortel, BroadSoft and others, as well as the mobility engine vendors. The other hurdles about devices and operators, however remain part of the roadblocks. Devices need to support the dual mode capability, but also need to be packaged and priced for the market where macro-handoff matters most – consumers. This is not of much concern to enterprise users and applications, which is the initial target of most dual mode devices and services.

Operators are, rightfully so, waiting for the final roadblocks to be removed and the target market to be empowered so that they can incrementally complement their infrastructures.

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