Fixed-Mobile Convergence (FMC) is a technology trend toward seamless connectivity between fixed and wireless telecommunications networks. FMC impacts almost all communications and information industries, promising great changes to the way customers consume communications services – anytime, anywhere and from any device. It is comprised of four key components –service, terminal, network, and industry convergence – all of which are interrelated and critical to the success of the others. Simply put, the aim is to provide both fixed and mobile telephony services with a single device or phone that can switch back and forth seamlessly.
Services in an FMC environment will deliver ubiquitous, personalized services across multiple domains. FMC will require the introduction and integration of a variety of key technology enablers. These include:
The broader and most encompassing definition of FMC is that it has the potential to become a “mega-trend,” meaning that it involves many industries, companies and technologies and touches nearly all end-users. It is now clear that both the industry and technology are able to provide a multitude of differentiated and integrated converged services using a large number of converged devices over a plethora of converged networks. FMC is driven by end-user needs as well as the operational efficiencies created by network modernization, the unification of core networks and multiple access synergies.
Overall, FMC should be seamless to the end-user and must involve personalization (i.e. a user’s services delivered to their device using whatever access network is appropriate). FMC involves a unified core network and multi-radio terminals as well as other terminal devices such as PCs and a common multi-access aware service delivery platform. However, success or failure will be determined not by networking technology, but by user acceptance.
New factors are pushing the enterprise market towards a tipping point at which companies can see the business process benefits of FMC, resulting in unreserved implementation. Analysis indicates that Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) will initially generate the more significant revenues due to its early market entry, but this position will be eroded over time by SIP-based services.
A complementary solution that may be part of FMC is UMA which involves the use of a dual-mode device capable of seamlessly roaming to or from a mobile cellular network such as GSM-HSPA to a Wi-Fi router for in-building solutions at home or in the office.
Industry interest in VoIP over Cellular is increasing. Reasons include the prospects of higher ARPU through richer communication (i.e. evolution currently driven by Internet players); lower operating expenditures through the offering of all mobile services from a common PS platform; and Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC).
The movement is to standardize an IMS Multimedia Telephony service in 3GPP for many reasons: standardized services have benefits over proprietary solutions in terms of mass market potential; IMS is the standardized IP service engine for 3GPP access; and the service should make use of IP’s multimedia capability and flexibility, while retaining key telephony characteristics.
The evolution of mobile VoIP will eclipse voice over Wi-Fi and become a mainstream form of communication. VoIP will enable operators to fit more phone calls into their scarce spectrum allocations, reduce operating expenses by combining fixed and mobile core networks and launch new services like push-to-talk and voice integrated mashups.