Cicero in VoIP deal with Talktelecom

5 Apr 2005

Talktelecom, a new operator planning to threaten the hitherto unassailable position of mobile operators by combining voice with Wi-Fi networking, has signed a technology deal with Cicero Networks.

As a result Talktelecom will become the first wire-line operator in Europe to offer voice over Wi-Fi (VoWi-Fi) services.

Talktelecom is a rapidly growing, alternative operator in the Irish market, which sells a range of fixed-line telephony services to the corporate market. From an early stage in its market development, it was clear that mobility costs were a significant pain point for its corporate customers. To that end, Talktelecom identified wireless VoIP as a service that would reduce customer’s costs without harming current voice revenue streams.

The fixed-to-mobile convergence market is of growing importance to traditional European fixed-line operators. Recent reports suggest that Eircom, for example, is on the verge of acquiring Meteor for a possible €400m to take advantage of opportunities in this sector; instantly providing it with a 9pc share of the Irish mobile marketplace. A spokesman for Eircom in conversation with denied that such talks were or had taken place in the US recently.

“Cicero Network’s integrated end-to end solution has given us fast time to market in delivering a truly innovative and cost-effective wireless voice service,” said Jonathan Mills, CEO of Talktelecom. “Cicero enables us to grow our existing business and enter new markets while delivering a substantial return on investment in a short time frame.”

Talktelecom was established in 2002 and is a fully licensed general telecoms operator selling wholesale telephone minutes to Irish corporate users at discounted rates. Mills previously owned 50pc of Trinity Technology before selling it to a management team in 1999. He then became director of The Hatchery, a business innovation unit at the Smurfit Business School in University College Dublin, where he worked for three years before founding Talktelecom.

According to Mills, the use of Wi-Fi combined with mobile will enable business users to make calls to Australia or the US for only €2 per hour.

Talktelecom has deployed Cicero Network’s complete solution, including Cicero Controller and Cicero Connectors within the carrier network. In addition, Talktelecom is using Cicero’s softphone client on dual-mode GSM/Wi-Fi handsets to make and receive Wi-Fi-based voice calls when there is Wi-Fi coverage, while continuing to make GSM calls elsewhere. Cicero is also being used to support standard session IP-based Wi-Fi phones as a low-cost alternative within the enterprise environment.

“Talktelecom is pioneering the advancement of fixed-mobile convergence by offering its customers wireless voice services at fixed-line costs,” added Ross Brennan, CEO Cicero Networks. “In deploying Cicero, they have a highly scalable, next-generation wireless voice solution that integrates into their existing fixed-line infrastructure and provides them with a clear migration path for tomorrow’s next-generation networks such as IP multimedia subsystem.”

As well as unveiling the deal with Talktelecom, Brennan revealed that the company has released Cicero 2.0, the latest version of its VoWi-Fi technology. First unveiled in August 2004, Cicero is an innovative, wireless VoIP solution that enables fixed-line telcos, cable operators, internet service providers and broadband wireless services providers to introduce Wi-Fi based voice services to its corporate and residential customers. Supporting both outbound and inbound VoWi-Fi calls, Cicero enables operators to both increase revenues and reduce their interconnect charges by routing wireless calls over fixed-line networks.

“In this latest release, we have delivered significant enhancements to our call routing and quality-of-service optimisation features,” Brennan said. “Recognising Wi-Fi users are as likely to turn up in Dublin or London as New York or Honk Kong, operators require a solution that factors the subscriber’s current location into the call-routing decision.”

According to Dean Bubley, founder of Disruptive Analysis: “An increasing number of cellular phones will feature a smart operating system, such as Windows Mobile, Symbian or Palm OS, combined with Wi-Fi connectivity. These dual-mode phones will make the concept of tariff arbitrage very appealing, especially to users who face high-cellular roaming or fixed-to-mobile call charges. Cicero’s solution should make this type of least-cost routing function much easier.”

By John Kennedy