There are all kinds of buzzwords that we have to deal with on a daily basis. Understanding what they really mean and what’s behind them helps to make it easier to decide if a given technology is really good for the business or if the terms are just market-speak intended to separate us from our budget.

One of the new phrases that’s bandied about now is “Fixed Mobile Convergence,” often known by the abbreviation FMC.

What is FMC?

First of all, obviously you don’t want to confuse the FMC in Fixed Mobile Convergence for the company FMC. The initials FMC in FMC Corporation originally stood for Food Machinery Corporation (which makes the name FMC Corporation rather redundant). The FMC we’re talking about deals entirely with telecommunications in your business, although FMC may be able to benefit by using FMC.

Specifically, the term FMC deals entirely with making sure that both your wired (fixed) and wireless (mobile) telecommunication and network devices work together seamlessly (convergence). The term itself has been tossed around for about a decade, but only now has it started to get some traction.

Depending on the company employing the term, FMC may apply only to voice networks. Traditionally FMC has been thought of as extending the reach and use of cell phone and devices like Blackberries. Other vendors apply the term exclusively to data networks. And still others use the term to apply to any configuration of wired/wireless devices. This is where a bit of the confusion of the term comes from. As you can probably guess, how a vendor uses the term depends on what they’re trying to sell you.

And let’s be clear, sales is what the term is all about. FMC is one of the terms that vendors use to encourage you to dump one vendor’s product for their own. The argument goes something like this:

“We understand you’re using Brand X for your wired solutions and our company for your mobile solutions. Did you know you can save (insert overstated amount of money here) through simple Fixed Mobile Convergence? And why yes, we have a product right here that only costs (insert understated amount of money here). So let’s just dump Brand X and sign the contract, shall we?”

The term isn’t entirely smoke and mirrors however. There are some definite theoretical benefits to deploying an FMC-compliant system, including:

  • Centralized management
  • More efficient bandwidth usage
  • Lower total cost
  • Centralized service and support
  • Streamlined billing

So, you shouldn’t necessarily ignore the term completely, but you should be aware of how a vendor is employing the term and how that matches up to the usage of mobile technology in your organization.

Vendors in the FMC arena

Just about any vendor that’s involved in networking has an FMC solution. Some of the key players include:

You can find out more about each vendor’s definition of FMC and the services they offer at their Web sites. In addition you can also find out more about FMC at the Fixed-Mobile Convergence Alliance Web site. TechRepublic’s Jason Hiner also recently interviewed Pejman Roshan, cofounder of Agito Networks about FMC.

The bottom line for IT leaders

As always, you should be aware of hype and buzzwords that vendors use to influence the spending of your budget. Fixed Mobile Convergence is one of those fuzzy terms that vendors can use to mean many different things. Be aware of your current mobile infrastructure and the needs of your users. Then you can decide if FMC means Fixed Mobile Convergence for you or Finding More Cash for your vendors.