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RIM Adds WiFI Support To Its PBX Mobility Solution

Smartphone vendor Research in Motion has revealed the latest update to their mobile PBX integration solution, BlackBerry Mobile Voice System 5 (MVS 5).  Along with a number of other features, MVS 5 adds support for Voice over WLAN to WiFi-equipped Blackberries, enabling enterprise users to drop their desksets and leverage both WLAN and cellular networks to make and receive calls from their office line.

MVS 5 integrates between an organization's Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) and the PBX phone system to link the mobile devices to the user's extension. Using the mobile client, the user can use use extension dialing for internal calls or grab an outside line on the PBX and make external calls.  Likewise, internal and external incoming calls to that extension are routed to the user's Blackberry. If allowed, the policies enforced by the BES regarding WiFi access, MVS can route calls over the local enterprise WLAN, user's broadband access at home, or even hotspot WiFi access. 

Blackberry policies can go even further for organizations that have strict compliance issues by requiring that all calls on the user's Blackberry be routed through the office line, essentially disabling the mobile number of the device. Even without specific regulatory requirements, this option may be appealing to enterprises. When dealing with sales teams, for example, it might make sense to enable this option to ensure that customer calls are kept within the organization and do not follow a departing salesman's mobile phone.

The biggest issue that MVS does not address, however, is automatic handoffs. The mobile user has to manually transfer an ongoing call from WiFi to cellular or vice versa. This could lead to dropped calls if the user strays too far away from the corporate WLAN and does not consciously transfer the call. The solution also serves as an alternative to to third-party mobility solutions from vendors such as Agito Networks. 

On one hand, enterprises that have standardized on the Blackberry for enterprise mobility will likely appreciate the integration of the native Blackberry solution, but with iPhones and Android devices creeping their way into many organizations, these third-party solutions might be a better, vendor-neutral approach. Still, the MVS solution affords enterprises the opportunity for cost savings by of not only lowering the number of mobile minutes used, but also the expense of deploying both a desk phone and mobile device to the users that need them.