UMA: T-Mobile’s secret weapon. Truphone: everyone else’s?

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TruphonelogoAndy Abramson is another one of those people much smarter than me. That’s why I’ve followed his VoIP Watch blog for some time and highly recommend you do as well. Today, Andy shares some thoughts on T-Mobile’s UMA service that I completely agree with. While all of us data-centric users are patiently waiting for government squatters to move on so T-Mo can roll out their 3G data network, the voice side of the house is quietly expanding in scope and size with UMA. Like Andy, I’m excited by the prospect of voice calls that seamlessly transfer from cellular networks to WiFi networks and I see it as a key advantage that T-Mobile holds over the other carriers. What I didn’t see until Andy mentioned it: Truphone could be an easy, low-cost strategic play for AT&T and others here in the U.S.; a great counter to T-Mobile’s early UMA adoption due to its SIP basis.

I’ll have to play with Truphone on a Nokia device to better understand where all of this mobile voice over in the Ether is heading, but for now, I’ll stick with Andy’s train of thought. Hey, the quickest way to get smarter is to hang out with (or read) the smart kids. I’d love to hear some reader thoughts on either UMA or Truphone experiences…

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I’ve been using Truphone for several months now and it is truly awesome. Actually I’ve set up my mobile (Nokia E60) to be simultaneously registered to both Truphone and Gizmo Project. I have a account as well but haven’t hooked that up, mostly because I’d need to actually pay for something – a DID.

Adding Devicescape into the mix makes this a really killer solution, because now it automatically registers Truphone to whatever local wifi is available. Presumably it’s useful to do this with Fon, but I don’t see many Fon APs around.

Anyway, my experience of Truphone so far is that it pretty much just works. When I’m at home and someone calls me on my Truphone number it rings, I see caller ID, I pick it up. My voicemail messages get emailed. Pretty much all I need. (Of course the same is true of my Gizmo/GrandCentral combo as well, but the great thing about Truphone is the outgoing caller ID.)

In fact, I use so few actual mobile minutes now that I’ve switched to T-mobile pay as you go. I travel a lot and like to change SIMs, so my Truphone number automatically forwards straight through to whatever country I’m in. Plus I always get a kick out of doing something that was impossible just a couple years ago, like standing in front of the Apple Store calling my friend in Thailand over wifi for free…

That said, I would be extremely surprised if AT&T somehow teamed up with Truphone. Truphone is out there to eat AT&T’s lunch. On the other hand, if there’s a major ISP out there that doesn’t currently offer mobile services there’s a very interesting play to make. An ISP could flash the firmware of every wifi connected customer’s AP with something like chillispot. Next thing you know they could be offering mobile services without putting up a single GSM tower.

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