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RIM Links BlackBerry to PBX

RIM jumped into the Fixed Mobile Convergence game with its purchase of Ascendent Systems in March of 2006. On the hardware side, Ascendent has been unique in that they can connect to both IP- and TDM-based PBX systems. Client wise, Ascendent's FMC solution allowed users to leverage functions of their PBX using DTMF tones (i.e. **1 to transfer a call, etc.) While this did allow Ascendent to work with any phone (including low-cost "feature" phones), RIM cited that in many case DTMF access was difficult and cumbersome. RIM has now created a graphical client that allows users to use PBX features from their BlackBerry line of smartphones. Unlike competing vendors, which create their own FMC client that suppress the native dialer on a smartphone, RIM has integrated its client into the native BlackBerry dialer which should create a more seamless experience for users. RIM's new client will be welcomed by enterprises looking to add PBX features for their BlackBerry user base. However, a lack of dual-mode devices in RIM's portfolio will negate the cost savings that can be had from FMC by offloading VoIP calls onto enterprise Wi-Fi networks, as competing solutions using select Windows Mobile and Symbian devices do.
Sean Ginevan
Senior Contributing Editor

Research In Motion this week introduced new software that IT can use to integrate BlackBerry devices with a user's PBX-driven desk phone.

The new software involves enhancements to a slew of BlackBerry software, including the BlackBerry Device Software, BlackBerry Enterprise Server and Ascendent Voice Mobility suite, which RIM acquired last year. Together, the software allows a BlackBerry handheld to be securely authenticated into an enterprise PBX and allows the BlackBerry client to access PBX functions from the menus of a BlackBerry device.

Using the software, users can place, receive and manage enterprise calls from their handset. Among other capabilities, the set-up simultaneously rings a user's desk phone and their BlackBerry. In addition, users can use desk functions such as transfer, part and extension dialing from their mobile device.

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