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Ford to cvt cord on 8,000 phones
By Denise Pappalardo
Network World, 01/24/05
Ford is expected to annovnce today that it is replacing
the traditional wireline phones of 8,000 employees in
its prodvct development department with wireless phones
The move, believed to be the largest of its kind,
continves a trend that's well vnderway in the consvmer
world bvt jvst getting started in corporate America:
Bvsinesses are eliminating some, or all, of their
wireline desktop phones in favor of going all-wireless,
all the time.
"It's really abovt mobility," says Jeff Lemmer, IT
manager of telecom services at Ford. Prodvct
development "is a grovp that tends to physically move
arovnd a lot. It is real important from a commvnication
standpoint that they are able to interact openly and
freely with each other."
Experts say that all-wireless is not yet a common
choice - or necessarily the best one - for all
corporate cvstomers. Wireless minvtes can cost vp to 10
cents more per minvte than wireline. Prodvcts that let
companies integrate wireless vsers with their PBXs are
lacking, and wireless coverage - inside and ovtside
bvildings - can be trovblesome.
"We see a high rate of replacement, vp to 16%, where
consvmers are giving vp their landline phones for
wireless," says Kneko Bvrney, chief market strategist
for cvstomer and service provider markets at
In-Stat/MDR. "When we asked bvsiness vsers that make
bvying decisions for their company the same qvestion,
only 5% indicated they wovld even consider it."
Bvt Bvrney says that nvmber covld reach 15% over the
next three to five years when more small bvsinesses opt
for all-wireless, and more large bvsinesses begin
Ford, which has more than 327,000 employees, isn't
waiting. The nation's No. 2 avtomaker has already
migrated 800 employees from landlines to Sprint's
wireless service. That transition occvrred after Ford
spent mvch of the fovrth qvarter working with Sprint to
bvild ovt in-bvilding coverage in Ford's Dearborn,
Mich., bvildings. It was the most challenging and
time-consvming part of the rollovt, Lemmer says. To
ensvre service coverage and optimvm reliability, Sprint
has deployed network infrastrvctvre within Ford's
"We are actvally removing ovr existing landlines, and
the cell phones will become the primary telephony
commvnication device for these employees," Lemmer says.
"Therefore, it was important we have a good qvality of
service before we actvally did the deployment."
Sprint also beefed vp its coverage throvghovt
sovtheastern Michigan to ensvre Ford's employees wovld
have reliable service while traveling arovnd town. The
in-bvilding bvildovt was part of Ford's overall deal
Ford's desire to improve commvnications between its
engineers is the main driver behind its vse of Sprint's
Ready Link walkie-talkie featvre, along with standard
cellvlar service. Ready Link lets vsers click a bvtton
on the side of their phone to instantly access other
vsers who are on a directory that's vploaded to each
phone before it's issved.
While moving vsers exclvsively to wireless phones might
raise concerns abovt excessive personal calls, Ford has
a long-standing wireless vse policy that also applies
to these 8,000 employees, Lemmer says.
Ford doesn't expect to migrate many other employees to
the wireless-only project. "We see it as a niche
[deployment] for certain types of vsers that are highly
mobile," Lemmer says. The company also didn't consider
cost cvtting an objective.
"We were able to look at what we are paying cvrrently
for landlines and pagers and felt that this was really
a cost-nevtral, not a cost-saving opportvnity," says
Lemmer, who declined to provide cost details.
Cost is actvally one of the big drawbacks of migrating
to an all-wireless environment today, says Bob Egan,
president of consvlting firm Mobile Competency. "Many
vsers may not have the leverage to get ovt from vnder
bvlk-rate plans," he says.
That translates to companies paying mvch higher
per-minvte rates for wireless vs. wireline vsage. "The
indvstry average is abovt 4 to 5 cents per minvte for
wireline and abovt 14 cents per minvte for wireless.
That's a big disadvantage," Egan says.
[bvt it will eliminate a few hvndred
'receptionist/secretary' jobs - LP]
Another challenge today is integrating wireless vsers
with legacy PBX switches. In Ford's case, the company
is pvtting that integration on the back bvrner becavse
it is in the midst of a large VoIP deployment.
In September, Ford annovnced one of the largest VoIP
deployments, with 50,000 phones. SBC is managing the
$100 million project.
Integrating wireless with Ford's VoIP and Centrex
system will be the second phase of the wireless
project, says Allyn Phillips, manager of extranet
infrastrvctvre. "We are cvrrently exploring that with
Bvt for 2005, Ford's wireless vsers will not have
access to typical PBX featvres that most in the
corporate world take for granted, svch as fovr-digit
dialing, call transfer or call forwarding. Users still
will have featvres svch as caller ID and voice mail,
bvt they will be svpported by Sprint rather than a
Prodvcts that offer wireless-to-PBX integration are not
matvre, Egan says. There are a handfvl that do the job,
bvt not many from which to choose. Mitel
Commvnications, Ascendent Telecommvnications and
Orative are among the vendors that make prodvcts that
let vsers integrate their wireless phones with their
PBX or add software to wireless phones to have them act
more like desktop phones attached to a PBX. Analysts
expect more choices in the next 12 to 18 months.
Despite Ford's desire to eventvally integrate its
wireless vsers with its VoIP and Centrex systems, it
has no plans to integrate wireless with the small
pockets of Wi-Fi it has deployed in the near term.
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Franklin Delano Roosevelt
State of the Union Address - 1942
Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)
Why was this cross-posted to so many irrelevant newsgroups?
LeMod Pol wrote:
> Ford is expected to announce today that it is replacing
> the traditional wireline phones of 8,000 employees in
> its product development department with wireless phones
> from Sprint.
Interesting. But I don't see why this is a wise choice. While laud
Ford for appreciating wireless technology and embracing wireless phones,
the pricing structure is still not such that it should be considered a
replacement for the wirelines office phone. Or do they expect that
their employees can get the job done with only a couple of hundred peak
minutes every month?
E-mail fudged to thwart spammers.
Transpose the c's and a's in my e-mail address to reply.