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February 14, 2014

Does Vitelity's vMobile Finally Make the Deskphone Obsolete?

One of the exciting elements of tradeshows we’ve come to expect is, “What’s new?” This year’s ITEXPO Miami was no different, with a host of new product and service announcements (check out all the news and highlights here).

As expected, the continuing trend towards enhanced mobility was a major theme, as businesses small and large continue to mobilize their workforces in an effort to increase efficiency, maximize productivity, while still allowing for a healthy work/life balance. This is by no means a new trend, as from the early days of Unified Communications, vendors have been struggling with the notion of fixed/mobile convergence – the ability to extend corporate communications capabilities to mobile endpoints.

It’s always been a challenge, though, due to the connectivity required for OTT apps, or the need to automate call forwarding between corporate and cellular networks. It’s never been a truly seamless experience, and often results in reduced QoS.

At ITEXPO Miami, Best On-site Launch award winner Vitelity announced a breakthrough in FMC that it says will eliminate all the traditional challenges, and finally bring complete PBX functionality to the mobile world. Its vMobile software integrates with any SIP-based PBX, and is embedded in the mobile device thanks to partnerships with mobile operators, creating a seamless handoff between networks when moving between corporate and mobile environments.

Because of the tight integration with the mobile device, vMobile doesn’t require a third-party app to function, and provides its functionality even in the absence of an Internet connection. 

“This is true mobile convergence with your existing SIP-compliant PBX system,” explains Vitelity’s Chris Brown, who was instrumental in spearheading the development of the software. “When you place a call, it goes over the mobile operator’s network, gets routed to Vitelity where it is converted to a SIP session, and is then routed immediately to your corporate PBX as a SIP peer.”

Calls are all routed through the corporate PBX, allowing complete control, just as with calls to and from office deskphones, including monitoring, recording, barge, and other capabilities. In fact, every PBX feature set is available on the mobile device.

“This is your new office phone,” says Brown.

Again, because of the software integration, no data connection is required to create the connection. If you have Wi-Fi connectivity, calls are automatically routed over that network. But, Vitelity actively monitors network connectivity and if you leave your Wi-Fi area, or of connectivity starts to degrade, resulting in packet loss, the call is automatically and seamlessly handed over to the cellular network.

Brown gave me a demonstration on the show floor, first using an Android smartphone – initial support is for the Android OS (not a surprise, given how close to the vest Apple prefers to keep its technology). I verified no Internet connectivity on the phone, and Brown proceeded to place a call using the phone’s native dialer, not an OTT app or third-party dialer.  Immediately, the deskphone at the booth linked to his identity showed his presence as being on a call. He was able to transfer calls and perform other key PBX functions directly from the smartphone.

Then came the fun part. Brown produced a Motorola StarTac – which has no app or data capabilities – and proceeded to perform the same functions again, because the calls are routed through the PBX and do not rely on a downloaded app. Both phones functioned exactly as the deskphone did, with the exception of being mobile.

I look forward to testing out the capability for myself, but based on what I’ve seen, vMobile delivers on what dozens of companies have sought to achieve during the last decade – true FMC without sacrificing any PBX functionality.

Android support is a great start, given its status as the most popular mobile OS globally. But, given the presence of Apple in the US market, especially among corporate executives, Vitelity’s key to success may lie with its ability to make inroads in Cupertino. Regardless, vMobile represents success where other vendors have fallen short and certainly gives increased merit to those who have been predicting the end of the deskphone.

“When I came to Vitelity, it was my mission to change things,” says Brown. “I wanted to change the way people communicate, and I believe we did that today.”

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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