With the increasing demand for and use of 'smartphones' by business men and women, the need for applications to combine mobile technology with business PBX or hosted VoIP solutions is greater than ever. Using mobile phones for business was formerly cost prohibitive, with roaming charges and internet access fees racking up hundreds of dollars a month in cell phone bills that had to be paid either by the employee or the company.
AT & T seen poised to control the 3G network, keeping costs high for several years yet, but competition from Verizon, which recently introduced a business mobile app to integrate cell technology with existing PBX business systems, has sparked competition between the two giants. 'Find me follow me' applications, which allow communication between business VoIP systems and employee's mobile phones, have become an important part of the unified communications landscape.
The Android phones are leading the way towards the full scale integration of mobile and VoIP networks; as usual, Apple balks at embracing alternative technologies, but will have to keep pace if the iPhone is expected to keep up. Recently developed applications include Android based SIPDroid, which permits calls to be made over existing networks using either WiFi or 3G technology, and the iPhone app Acrobits, also usable over both 3G networks as well as WiFi.
The ability to communicate seamlessly within the existing interface provided by Hosted VoIP or PBX systems can significantly reduce costs. Instead of separate monthly charges for expensive cell phone plans including mobile internet access, the business network can be used for calls and data transfer. The concept of avoiding high per phone plans with overages for roaming or exceeding data limits is replaced by high quality calling and messaging via SIP based systems.
In the months to come, several of the latest mobile phones are expected to be disclosed and with even more compatibility available for use on 3G and 4G networks, the advantages in reliable service and low cost alternatives to company supplied mobile phone plans can not be denied.
A further advantage exists in the fact that calls made from a mobile phone connected to a SIP client will show on the recipient's caller ID as coming from any designated business number. This allows a professional presence to be maintained, while allowing managers and employees to stay connected in and out of the office. When combined with a 'find me follow me' feature, there's never a reason to miss an important call.