RIM Adds Wi-Fi Calling, SIP to BlackBerry Voice System

Research In Motion today added Wi-Fi calling support to its Mobile Voice System (MVS), with the goal of saving enterprises money on voice costs and streamlining the use of a single work number among desk phones and BlackBerrys. It also unveiled two new BlackBerry phones -- the Bold 9650 and Pearl 3G.

MVS 5, available later this year, allows calls to be routed through a corporate phone system, or PBX (private branch exchange), which RIM says helps enterprises comply with company policies and provides savings on long-distance and international voice costs. Employees also benefit from having a single business phone number for both their desk phone and BlackBerry device.

RIM also upgraded MVS to become a full-fledged SIP platform, offering better PBX integration and support for SIP-based applications.

"MSV 5 works behind the scenes to integrate with the corporate PBX, we compare it to BlackBerry Enterprise Server. Just like BES mobilized e-mail, MVS mobilizes voice. The part is that we are using the SIP standard to work with any SIP compliant vendor," Manish Punjabi, senior director of collaboration for mobile voice at RIM, told EnterpriseMobileToday.com.

Mobile VoIP, Wi-Fi Call Mobile Apps on the Rise

The news comes at a time when VoIp services, such as Skype, are making inroads into the enterprise with SIP business offerings and as both Wi-Fi calling services, such as Google Voice, and Skype gain momentum through mobile applications.

MSV 5 also debuts as IP-based desk phones are gaining in popularity and reflects the growing trend of carriers off-loading calls to Wi-Fi to free up overtaxed wireless networks choking on data delivery. For mobile IT managers, the use of Wi-Fi for calls also can mean significant savings because employees can find a Wi-Fi hotspot and make secure, free phone calls using the corporate infrastructure. And, for users struggling with poor 2G and 3G coverage, especially in office buildings, Wi-Fi calls can be a more efficient alternative.

Using MVS 5, users can now can transfer calls between cellular and Wi-Fi networks, or vice versa. Prior to version 5, they could only move a call from the BlackBerry to a desk phone or vice versa.

Advanced mobile IT features built into BlackBerry MVS 5 include: Wi-Fi network access controls to set which Wi-Fi networks employees can access; network preference settings with the option of prioritizing the use of Wi-Fi or cellular for making phone calls; authentication to help ensure that only authorized BlackBerry smartphones have access to the corporate phone system; and incoming call filtering based on allowed and blocked caller lists.

BlackBerry MVS 5 comprises a BlackBerry MVS smartphone client software application, which can be distributed wirelessly to BlackBerry smartphones through BlackBerry Enterprise Server and BlackBerry MVS Server, which interfaces between BlackBerry Enterprise Server and the corporate phone system/PBX.

A new interoperability platform has also been added with BlackBerry MVS 5 to help telecommunications companies to offer BlackBerry MVS 5 as part of their corporate phone system offerings. RIM is working with leading companies to make BlackBerry MVS available for a range of PBX systems.

RIM and Cisco have also partnered up to integrate BlackBerry MVS 5 with Cisco Unified Communications Manager.

"BlackBerry Mobile Voice System and Cisco Unified Communications Manager provide and extend Cisco’s IP telephony features to BlackBerry smartphone users at companies of any size. With an integrated Cisco Unified Wireless Network, our customers will be able to have highly secure voice over Wi-Fi experiences and high quality phone calls with their BlackBerry smartphones while roaming across the wireless network," Laurent Philonenko, vice president of the unified communications business unit at Cisco, said in a statement.

Bold and Pearl Refresh Models on Tap as New BlackBerry OS Looms

In other news, RIM today introduced the BlackBerry Bold 9650, which is a CDMA smartphone with full keyboard and support for 3G. It also has a touch-sensitive trackpad, Wi-Fi, 3.2-megapixel camera and GPS, as well as a 2.4-inch, high-resolution display (480 x 360 resolution at 245 ppi). Sprint will begin selling the Bold 9650 on May 23 for $199 after rebates and with a contract. Given its CDMA support, it's widely expected to become available on Verizon soon.

Also unveiled today is the diminutive, candybar-style BlackBerry Pearl 3G -- the smallest BlackBerry ever, weighing 3.3 ounces and only 2 inches wide -- which supports HSDPA networks and comes with a 3.2-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi, GPS, optical trackpad and media player. The Pearl is powered by a 624 Mhz processor and has 256 MB Flash memory. It's expected to become available in May, but carrier and pricing details were not disclosed.

Both the Bold 9650 and the Pearl 3G are powered by BlackBerry OS 5, but analysts are anticipating that RIM will preview its updated BlackBerry OS 6 at the company's Wireless Enterprise Symposium (WES) kicking off tomorrow in Orlando.

TAGS:

Blackberry, RIM, VoIP, mobile voip, Wi-Fi calling

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