CTIA Preview: With femtocells, FMC gets real

The concept of fixed-mobile convergence has been around for so long, and has been applied to so many different technology innovations and business strategies, that the telecom industry may have to forgive the pause of surprise among many of us as it becomes clear what FMC really is.

The FMC plans of U.S. wireless carriers are just now coming to fruition, and for many U.S. customers who look to experience FMC this year, that experience will be shaped by residential service/device platforms like Verizon's Hub, Sprint's Airave, T-Mobile USA's @Home, and whatever AT&T decides to call its service once its femtocell trials are done.

As a keynote speaker at the show, Verizon Chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg is sure to touch on his company's Hub launch--who knows, maybe he will even offer up some preliminary numbers on the success of this two-month-old femtocell-based FMC service. T-Mobile President and CEO Robert Dotson also will be keynoting.

Another show attraction on the convergence theme is the April 1 conference track called "The Blueprint of Convergence," featuring the plenary session "The Converged Network--How We Get There from Here."

Meanwhile, the Wireless 2009 show floor is sure to offer plenty of announcements connecting with the hot topic of fixed mobile convergence. AirWalk Communications, Cisco Systems, Huawei Technologies, Ubquisys, Continuous Computing, Genband, Tatara Systems and Airvana are just some of the femtocell exhibitors on hand.

AirWalk will be showing its new enterprise femtocell, EdgePoint Pro, which has features that include support for multiple users, management of multiple femtocells and links to enterprise IP PBXs. Ubiquisys, AirWalk and Tatara all will be involved in Acme Packet's technology demonstration of its Net-Net Security Gateway and Net-Net Session Director supporting an IMS/NGN environment. Continuous Computing will demonstrate the concept of adaptive traffic shaping for femtocells to improve the quality of femtocell coverage. Meanwhile, the Wi-Fi Alliance and ABI Research will announce new research related to FMC's outlook through 2014.

There no doubt will be several more FMC-related announcements and demonstrations at Wireless 2009, but the difference between this year's version of FMC and what we have seen in previous years is that this year's version is ready for prime time.