After testing the waters with consumers for more than a year, BT plans to extend its converged fixed-mobile communications service to businesses early next year. The move follows a successful field test with a government organisation.
BT Corporate Fusion, announced today, combines Wi-Fi and mobile phone service for voice calls, using VoIP (voice over IP) technology when calls are made over a wireless network to lower phone costs.
The service will be rolled out initially in the UK and Italy early next year, with Germany, France, Spain and the Benelux countries (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) to follow.
The operator plans to announce handset deals in the coming weeks.
The service works like this: calls made from dual-mode Wi-Fi-GSM (global system for mobile communications) phones within an office building are connected through Wi-Fi access points and routed over existing fixed-line infrastructure. Using VoIP technology to route those calls saves money.
Outside corporate premises, the dual-mode phone operates like a mobile phone, providing ubiquitous coverage and global roaming. These calls, however, are more expensive because they are carried over mobile phone networks.
Leeds City Council has been testing the converged service at two locations.
Several operators, including Deutsche Telekom and the Danish subsidiary of Sweden's TeliaSonera, have launched new converged fixed-mobile services but these offerings are targeted at consumers, largely in a move to keep customers from abandoning traditional fixed-line telephone service.
BT also said today the group expects to more than double revenue from networking services for enterprises in the US, Japan, China and India.