Experts have poured scorn on claims by Nokia that firms would find it cheaper to rip out their landlines and use mobile networks instead.
At the Nokia Mobile Internet Conference 2003 in Nice last week, the company claimed that analysis of the hidden cost of 'free' PBX internal calls would show that these calls actually cost around €1 (69p) a minute.
By removing dual infrastructure of fixed and mobile, which can involve expensive internal calls, companies could make savings of up to 25 per cent, Nokia said.
"What we're saying to IT managers is analyse the cost of your PBX, stop thinking of it as part of the building," Mikko Seppäläinen, head of mobile business voice at Nokia Networks, told vnunet.com.
Seppäläinen said a study conducted with consulting and managed services firm Bearing Point found that when mobile penetration in a firm reaches 60 to 70 per cent it becomes cheaper for the company to rip out their landlines and equip their remaining staff with mobile handsets.
"In the most mature markets, mobile operators already have the required network capacity, voice quality and PBX-like features in their networks," he said, adding that 3G would increase capacity fivefold.
But Seppäläinen admitted that quality of service might not be good enough in London, and that no UK operators had yet bought Nokia's Mobile Business Voice product, designed to enable operators to offer this service.
A similar product from Ericsson, the MM10, has yet to grab the imagination of UK businesses and Voice over IP (VoIP) may offer better cost savings, experts said.
"I accept the dual infrastructure argument would make some savings, but carriers like BT are offering exceptional deals at the moment and I can't see how mobile to mobile could be cheaper than fixed to fixed," said Keith Humphreys, managing consultant at EuroLAN Research.
"Nobody in their right mind is looking at going to mobile-only, apart from maybe the last leg," said Brian Johnson, managing director at Now Distribution. "VoIP is where the services are."
Humphreys added that a better idea would be Wi-Fi-enabled mobile handsets that combined with VoIP networks.
Although no details have been publicly discussed, Nokia is to integrate Wi-Fi into its next generation of phones but will enable data only, sources said.
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