Last week I met the team at Agito Networks to discuss their proposition for enterprise telephony. Agito was set up to address a number of issues in the enterprise mobile market. Poor in-building coverage is an issue for many businesses and has been exacerbated by the trend towards greener buildings which tend to use materials that impact radio propagation. Escalating mobile costs is an ongoing challenge for businesses; and mobile integration with PABXs, whilst saving money on calls to internal numbers, has had the effect of increasing overall spend for many businesses because users started using their mobiles for all calls. Communication has become increasingly complex, with multiple devices, and a strategy to simplify this improves the user experience as well as controls costs. However that simplification must combine the functionality of both the corporate desk phone and the mobile phone.
So how does Agito address these challenges? The Agito solution comes in two parts; the RoamAnywhere Mobility Router plus a handset client in the usual flavours – Nokia S60, Windows Mobile, with BlackBerry and iPhone due shortly. Agito’s goal is to keep calls on in-building WiFi when possible and it does this by using location context intelligence to determine when the handset should be using WiFi and when to fallback to cellular coverage. The location context intelligence ‘fingerprints’ the building access locations and combines this with cellsite triangulation to determine the handset’s location and optimise handover between WiFi and 3G/GSM. Hand-off between WiFi and 3G/GSM is achieved in a sub 100ms time frame and is therefore completely transparent to the user. The location awareness also enables optimisation of handset WiFi to maximise battery life – important as WiFi can be a mobile battery killer. In addition to corporate WiFi access points, the handset can use home or public hotspots when available. A neat example of the benefits of location context intelligence is switching on handset WiFi when you walk into your home. In order to optimise cost savings when out of WiFi coverage, the client will route defined call classes, for example international, via the office so they can be least cost routed to their destination. Whilst this all sounds great in theory it does work in practice; Agito has a number of existing deployments in the USA in both businesses and higher education.
What caught my attention with Agito is how they’ve used technology to deliver a simple, Normob friendly, user experience. Users continue to use their handsets as normal and the ‘clever stuff’ is completely transparent to the user. Agito took the view that their service had to deliver a user experience similar to the existing mobile user experience; meaning no additional complexity for the user and WiFi cellular hand-offs as seamless as regular cellular hand-offs. Users are not interested in the wireless technology behind their calls – the service has to just work.
Agito’s solution is a good example of using the best bits of different wireless technologies to deliver a service that addresses the shortcomings of each of the underlying wireless access methods.