Embarq: Wireless-Landline Call Convergence Is Finally Here

Posted by: Olga Kharif on October 24, 2006

Today, Embarq launched a really cool service that, I have no doubt, other telcos will soon offer to their business and, eventually, residential customers. Called Smart Connect, here’s what it does: Say, you start talking to a customer on your office phone, but 10 minutes later, you have to run out the door. Instead of hanging up, or telling the person you are talking to that you’ll call him from your cell, you can simply punch a button on your office phone and transfer the call onto your mobile. The transfer is seamless, so the customer doesn’t even need to know about it.

Embarq’s new Smart Connect Plus, also unveiled today, goes a step further. To use this service, you need a Wi-Fi-enabled cell phone from Embarq (currently, the company offers only UTStar’s 6700). Then, as you leave the office talking on the phone, the UTStar automatically moves the call from your office’s Wi-Fi network and onto the cellular network.

These are exactly the sort of services telcos and their customers have dreamed about for years. Remember all this talk about convergence? Well, with these services, it’s finally here.

Alas, it will cost you, all right: Smart Connect will cost users of Embarq wireline service (a requirement for getting this service) $19.95. Smart Connect Plus will cost non-Embarq users $24.95. Charges are lower if you use Embarq wireless or high-speed data services. Still, considering that 30% to 50% of all business cell phone calls are taken in the office, that might prove a small price to pay for some businesses.

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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