Your cell phone and Fixed-Mobile Convergence

Guest Columnist

Much of the success of recent Apple products has been their elegant user interface making iPods, iPads and iPhones easy to use. Google Android has emulated the Apple approach with great success. Simplicity of use has proven to be a viable business model.

Smart phones and other smart data devices are taking over the world, or so it seems. My daughter and tween grandchildren recently informed me that, even though I am “the greatest grandfather in the world,” they only do texting and that voice calls and email are yesterday’s news. As I said, technology is taking over our lives.

The cell phone carriers have not been oblivious to user wishes and demands. As a result, data usage on cell phones, notebook computers and pad devices has been increasing exponentially. In an effort to further simplify using a cell phone, the carriers are migrating toward what is called Fixed-Mobile Convergence (FMC). FMC is the bringing together of previously disconnected communication technologies (cellular and Wi-Fi) to form a seamless umbrella of access for all modern data devices including smart cell phones such as iPhones and pad devices like iPads and iPods and notebook computers.

The ultimate goal of FMC is to optimize transmission of all data, voice and video communications to and among end users, no matter what their locations or devices. In the more immediate future, FMC means that a single device can connect through and be switched between wired (Wi-Fi) and wireless networks.

AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, Rogers and other carriers currently offer FMC to their business clients. Modern computer-driven communication technologies enable companies to meld together various networks into a transparent web.

Any discussion about cell towers needs to be weighed against the overwhelming onslaught of newer technologies that offer vastly improved service along with simplicity of use compared to cell tower technology. FMC will offer phone users the option of a single phone number that will connect to landline phones, cell phones and other data devices such as iPads. FMC offers the opportunity to greatly reduce cell phone and/or landline costs while improving reception.

The backbone of Fixed-Mobile Convergence is the marriage of cellular networks with Wi-Fi networks. Most people on Longboat Key already have Wi-Fi in their homes. The town needs to extend Wi-Fi coverage throughout the community by installing a community Wi-Fi network on the island. Currently there are more than 126,000 square miles of municipal Wi-Fi globally, with the majority being in North America and Asia. I work with local tourist facilities where people ask for Wi-Fi access far more than they want cell service. Visitors want to be connected more than they need voice communications. We already have fairly good outdoor cell coverage. There are small pockets of poor service, along with individual residences with building construction issues. All these individuals can easily solve their indoor reception problems by switching carriers and/or using a Wi-Fi based FMC app on their cell phones.

Fixed-Mobile Convergence works will all cell carriers, even for foreign visitors who will no longer need expensive SIM cards or expensive global cell phones. In addition, all their other data devices will also function throughout our community.

Fixed-Mobile Convergence will deliver superior indoor cell phone access compared to any sort of cell tower that may or may not be constructed with one or two carriers. Cell towers will never improve access for all our data devices that we love and seem to need.

Fixed-Mobile Convergence is already in use by all the major cell carriers. We may never get a cell tower depending on the economy and our community’s continuing shift toward seasonal property owners. On the other hand FMC will be island-wide, indoors and outdoors, for all data devices including smart cell phones. We need to embrace today’s technological advances and leave the past behind us.

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