What Is a Fixed-Mobile Convergence?

Andrew Kirmayer

Fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) combines the capabilities of landline communication systems with cellular and other mobile communications networks. Both fixed and wireless networks can be interconnected and the services of one accessed by another. Implemented in 2004 with the formation of a global alliance, the concept is designed for subscribers to communicate and access data and video from anywhere, no matter what type of device is used. Under fixed mobile convergence, cellular telephone services can coexist with the services of fixed networks.

Fixed-mobile convergence combines landline communication capabilities with mobile communications networks.
Fixed-mobile convergence combines landline communication capabilities with mobile communications networks.

Wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) connections and software are required for a device to take advantage of fixed-mobile convergence. One of the reasons behind the concept is to encourage people to use both landline and cellular telephones, instead of abandoning their desk phones. The services that result allow fixed phones, mobile devices, and Internet access services to be accessible from one unit. Both homes and businesses may benefit from this arrangement. Industry standardization has also enabled Wi-Fi and cellular technologies to be combined.

One reason for fixed-mobile convergence is to convince people to keep their landlines.
One reason for fixed-mobile convergence is to convince people to keep their landlines.

Important factors in fixed-mobile convergence solutions include the ability to use a system regardless of a subscriber’s location. How each session between fixed and mobile systems is managed is also important. Quality of service, security against threats such as identity theft, and the individual components of each service are significant as well. The technologies for landline communications and mobile systems were developed under different circumstances and are therefore very different from one another.

With fixed-mobile convergence, calls can be redirected from a cellular phone to a landline, or the other way around, while a call is in progress. Also, cellular and desk phones can have the same number with FMC, and voicemail can be accessed from both as well. Some cellular phones also include Wi-Fi. Devices that make use of fixed-mobile convergence include a mobile computer that switches between Wi-Fi and cellular services, and handsets that can use an Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) to place calls. In addition to home and office use, the technology is beneficial for travelers because telecommunication services can be accessed from anywhere.

Modern Internet Protocol (IP) technologies also help to implement fixed-mobile convergence systems. The address space with IP version 4 (IPv4) is generally insufficient for such flexible services. By using IP version 6 (IPv6), large companies operating mobile networks are likely able to support the millions of more independent addresses. This typically warrants an entirely different structure between communications and broadcast services than previously used.

With fixed-mobile convergence, calls can be redirected from a cellular phone to a landline, or the other way around, while a call is in progress.
With fixed-mobile convergence, calls can be redirected from a cellular phone to a landline, or the other way around, while a call is in progress.

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Discussion Comments

David09

@hamje32 - I’ve heard that with IPV6 it’s possible to create trillions of potential Internet addresses. The problem however is that not everyone has adopted IPV6 yet.

Europe has done it to some degree but the United States is lagging. So it will take some time before we can exploit the full capabilities of the fixed mobile convergence technologies in my opinion. Until that happens I will just stick to my cell phone.

hamje32

@allenJo - I think the technology is pretty cool actually. Imagine that you are overseas and you can’t make a cell phone call because there are no providers nearby. Your phone could switch to VOIP mode and you can make that call over the Internet, provided that there is a WiFi hot spot nearby.

The situation could work in reverse too; there’s no WiFi hot spot so you make a regular cell phone call. The technology gives you total flexibility everywhere you go. If you’re not traveling it may not matter so much and I can see why you would want to just abandon the landline, but for a businessman, it’s indispensable.

allenJo

@miriam98 - One of my colleagues sometimes has her calls redirected from her work phone to her cell phone. She does this when she works from home.

She can also redirect to her landline too. She may not want everyone to have access to her cell phone number, so that’s one situation where the mobile fixed convergence helps you out.

You are giving up a certain amount of control in my opinion if you go with only a cell phone solution. That’s one way of looking at it. Of course as you point out if you have VOIP you can still cancel your landline and have calls redirected to your VOIP phone.

miriam98

I guess I don’t see how this will encourage me not to abandon my landline. Sure, it’s nice to redirect calls to and from your cell phone and landline, but why bother?

I do most of my calling on my cell phone anyway. While I haven’t abandoned my landline just yet, I am very close to doing just that. I rarely use it anymore and I get cheaper rates on my cell phone with better features.

I have a friend who completely disconnected his landline. Also some people use VOIP so they don’t need their landlines either. I would need a little more incentive to go with this mobile fixed convergence arrangement.

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