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FMC Vendor Tango Takes Another Half-Step

 

Tango Networks is yet another player in the enterprise FMC (fixed-mobile convergence) space, but focused on a carrier-centric implementation rather than carrier-agnostic, as is the case with DiVitas Networks and FirstHand, just to name two.
Tango has hooked up with Strata8 Networks, something of a wireless carrier and enterprise MVNO at the same time. In an interview with Tango for this announcement, the two partners apparently fell into each other's arms because both were looking for wireless carrier partners. Strata8 is focused on providing enterprise FMC products, but doesn't have nationwide footprint of using licensed and unlicensed spectrum and needs a roaming partner. They also needed an FMC enabler, which Tango can provide. Tango has the FMC product, Abrazo but needs a willing partner who can open up larger opportunities. [editorial note: 'Abrazo' is Spanish for 'hug' or 'embrace', an appropriate product name for the Tango Networks]
Most of the trial and production enterprise FMC implementations to date have taken a wireless carrier-agnostic approach for at least three reasons: for the vendor it provides a faster time to market; for the customer it allows implementation across its entire employee base, regardless of the carrier that their employee may be using, plus it provides the flexibility to move to other carriers as necessary. According to Tango, this doesn't mean that enterprises don't want to work with their carriers -- they're begging the operators to take a higher interest in FMC -- but enterprises don't want to be locked in. Of course, for Tango to deliver on this flexibility they need to work with at least, three, if not the four leaders: AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and T-Mobile. That's a tall order and it's unlikely that they'll see success everywhere. Sprint already has their own "Sprint Wireless Integration" initiative with PBX vendors Avaya, Cisco, and Nortel, and Verizon has teamed up with RIM's Ascendant Systems. There's room for multiple partners within each carrier, but it will take several months to a year to see at least the initial lineup, and then several more years for it to shake out.
Tango does not have any commercial deployments at this time, a symptom of the long product evaluation and purchase cycles of wireless carriers. Tango Networks shared that they plan to have meaningful revenue in 2008, so it appears that they will have some kind of carrier announcement(s) in the coming months. Enterprises will want to wade the carrier-centric/agnostic approaches carefully and choose a path that best suits their needs and future plans.

 

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Fixed-mobile convergence has garnered a lot of attention lately in the industry, but implementing it isn't as easy as grabbing some Wi-Fi-enabled handsets and deploying an FMC appliance.