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September 19, 2006

IBM and Telenor Take Mobile 'Presence' to New Heights



By Patrick Barnard
TMCnet Assignment Editor


Imagine a new generation of presence technology which enables mobile devices to actually “learn” about their users’ whereabouts and preferences. With this new technology, your PDA or mobile phone actually “knows” when you can be reached directly, based on the time of day and your location - or when to forward incoming calls to your voicemail (or perhaps to your partner or secretary). With this new level of presence, your PDA or mobile phone will know when you are walking into a meeting, based on your location, and will automatically start forwarding your calls. Most practical of all, this technology can tell you the whereabouts of virtually every other device connected to the network – and what each user’s level of availability is.

Well imagine no more: IBM and Telenor have teamed up to develop this new mobile communications technology – and it is called “Presence Advanced Services for Telco Applications” or “PASATA.” The technology holds great promise not only because of its applications in the enterprise, but also because it can streamline call routing efficiency for wireless networks, thus easing network congestion. Through the smart routing of calls, network operators stand to benefit because calls won’t terminate in places where they’re not supposed to. For example, if a user sets his phone to forward calls to voicemail from 2 to 4 p.m., any calls which come in during that time are automatically forwarded to voicemail, thus they don’t have to travel over the rest of the outbound network. The same result is achieved when a user sets the phone to forward calls based on his or her location.

Both companies claim that PASATA’s ability to enable a device to “learn” about its user’s habits is what sets it apart from other presence tools currently in use by mobile telecom providers. Similar to SOA, the standards-based infrastructure works with a variety of wireless networks including GSM, GPS, RFID and WiFi (News - Alert).

“The PASATA technology can have a direct benefit to our mobile phone business,” said Hans-Christian Haugli, SVP and head of Telenor R&D, in a press release. “Now we want to explore other applications with our enterprise customers and applications developers, who we think will find incredible new uses for this technology.”

For example, the technology has tremendous potential for the mobile workforce sector because it can actually “track” the whereabouts of field workers and builds intelligence about their travel and communication habits.

The technology, which has been tested on Telenor’s network, was developed by the two companies as part of a joint research initiative. It is based on WebSphere Presence Server (WPrS), part of IBM’s (News - Alert) services platform for telecommunications. WPrS uses a SOA approach to provide reusable functionality to allow service providers and enterprise customers to leverage presence technology across a range of services and applications.

Presence technology will be an integral part of the upcoming 3G wireless networks, and will be employed across a wide variety of devices, including mobile phones, notebook computers, PDAs and pagers. IBM and Telenor plan to extend the PASATA infrastructure to make it available to enterprise customers and third-party applications developers.

Vova Soroka, IBM’s lead researcher on the project, said as a network learns more and more about its users’ habits, “we believe we can reduce outgoing network load by up to 70 percent.”

“That is a huge benefit to a network operator, but PASATA can also be used to create new end-user applications – to enable new services in medicine, tourism, financial services, logistics and home care industries among others,” Soroka said. “Any business with a large mobile workforce will find potential uses.”

For more information about Telenor, visit www.telenor.com.

For more information about IBM’s Research Division, visit www.research.ibm.com.

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Patrick Barnard is Associate Editor for TMCnet and a columnist covering the telecom industry. To see more of his articles, please visit Patrick Barnard’s columnist page.

 

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