Wi-Fi/cellular convergence company DiVitas has launched a new version of its product, now available as software only, and hit back at competitors' claims.
DiVitas' Mobile UC appliance lets Wi-Fi capable handsets roam from the cellular network to corporate wireless LANs; with version 2.0, the company lets users buy just the software, to run on their own servers. There is also a service-provider option, which lets mobile operators include Wi-Fi roaming with their own services.
"We're no longer selling hardware," said chief executive Vivek Khuller. "That benefits our customers and us, because we don't have to take the burden of providing hardware."
The company has also moved to a GUI-based client on handsets, which it says allows it to offer richer functions and customisable links to users' data applications through the handset.
DiVitas has been criticised by its main competitor, Agito, for not offering location-based roaming, and for taking a different approach to integration with customer PBXs.
Divitas connects on the "trunk side" of the PBX, so its product appears as part of the phone network, connecting to a standard external interface, and using the Asterisk open source PBX to make "external" mobile phones appear as "internal" phone extensions.
Agito connects "line side", inside the office building, so calls over the Wi-Fi can be hooked up to the PBX's proprietary connections for extensions.
"Agito is more of a middleware solution," said Vivek Khuller, chief executive of DiVitas. "They are at the mercy of the PBX manufacturers. They have to do feature-by-feature integration for each PBX, because in the PBX world there is no standard way of exporting features to the handset."
Agito argues that its way is better: "Divitas requires a lot of integration with the existing PBX, effectively moving deskphones off the existing PBX and onto a new one," said Pej Roshan, Agito's chief executive. "Typically Divitas suits small businesses, moving off a key system."
DiVitas claims another difference - running its own client on the handset, which gives graphical access to applications that can be customised for different users.
"We control our own client," said Khuller. "We are able to maintain the mobile user independent of deskphone user behaviour." For instance, he said DiVitas' client can be used by a hospital to match incoming caller numbers against patient records. Agito relies on the handset's built in user interface, and could only do that sort of thing if it persuaded the handset maker to support it, he said.
Agito has countered that its location-based roaming makes its offering superior, and also suggested that DiVitas does not encrypt voice traffic when users connect from remote Wi-Fi sites.
Khuller denied this: "Voice traffic is encrypted if the enterprise wants it encrypted," he said. "It's a choice we provide to end users, because the handset technology and the public Wi-Fi network may not have the bandwidth to support good quality encrypted voice. If people say encryption is more important than quality, then we give them the choice of a VPN or encryption."
He also denied that Agito's location-based hand-off is a benefit: "Agito's hand-off is dependent on a specific access point identified as closest to the entry/exist point. If you or your handset hit that AP, the system will decide you are leaving the building. That's rudimentary and inflexible." He alleged that Agito's product does not hand-off based on signal strength as the company claims.
FMC products have actually performed rather poorly compared to expectat6ions, as mobile operators have been able to cut their rates sufficiently to keep customers. Khuller acknowledged this but said the new service provider option (already taken up by a small Connecticut-based VoIIP provider, Sawtel) would allow operators themselves to cash in on convergence "This offers Eg Sawtel, offers mobile operators features they can't get otherwise. That is huge."
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