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Nokia Has Doubts About UMA

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Nokia is uncertain about the future of UMA and may not develop any more dual-band handsets for the standard, according to George Fry, director of technology alignment for the Finnish company. “We’re not seeing use diminishing, but we are seeing deployments level off,” Fry said earlier this week at the Personal Computing and Communications Association meeting.

Fry said that in cases in which an operator such as T-Mobile is trying to fill holes in its coverage without spending more to build out the network, UMA makes sense. But he said he wasn’t aware of any new deployments in the last six months or so. Indeed UMA, a standard that allows for secure hand-off between a cellular and fixed network, has proved somewhat polarizing.

Meanwhile Steve Shaw, associate VP of marketing for Kineto Wireless, notes that UMA is also a key component of femtocells, which are currently en vogue in the telco world. Again, there’s no sense of how wide any sort of femtocell deployment might be, but Shaw, whose company bills itself as the UMA company, isn’t counting the standard out.

While admitting that current UMA deployments requiring dual-mode handsets are few, he points out that Orange does have plans to deploy a dual-band network in the UK, Spain and Poland to augment its program started in France. Maybe UMA will become a useful but limited standard, in a manner similar to the way Infiniband was hyped as a replacement for Fibre Channel and Ethernet, but instead was only adopted by the smaller market for high-performance computing.

11 Responses to “Nokia Has Doubts About UMA”

  1. If this line of thought is continued I will stop being a buyer of Nokia products Nokia Corp needs to provide more UMA apps for their smart phones and UMA phones, or I will no longer support Nokia as a consumer of Nokia products. Droid is starting to sound good!

  2. Well the iPhone seems to be doing quite well with WiFi. Is it possible that WiFi on capable handsets should be used for data services instead of voice. Comments??

  3. Let’s face it, Voice over WiFi is a bust. WiFi is power-hungry, susceptible to interference and is poor at hand-offs. If you want wireless connectivity, why not simply use what everyone already has — the cellphone network?

    In my present workplace, most people communicate via a combination of IM and mobile phone; landlines are mainly used for outgoing calls to save on mobile minutes. While this fits in with people’s lifestyles, it does emphasize the disconnect between the wireless carrier’s services and those that are owned by the enterprise — two numbers, two voicemail inboxes, and no integration between the two.

    My recipe for FMC: picocells at the enterprise premises, trunked back to the wireless carrier’s network, with a signaling link from the carrier to the enterprise’s IP PBX. In this way users of the corporate PBX have a wide choice in handsets, they get better signal strength while on premises, and a break in calling rates while using the picocell. Further, they can set up a corporate number that is an alias for their mobile number, with a unified inbox, and click-to-call dialing from their favorite IM software — and can even provide presence information based on their location (“in the office”/”out of the office”).

    Heck, the cellphone company could even become a hosted IP PBX/Unified Communications provider.


  4. Ditto on what Jahangir said.

    I think its also important to note that if carriers really start to open up their platforms, several startups will probably build applications that will that will use FMC. I can see larger companies doing the same. Wouldn’t be surprising to see Microsoft/Google incorporating interesting FMC angles into TellMe/Grand Central with each product’s respective voice offerings… or maybe with open platforms, developers will build apps around them.

    Also as I mention in the comment below, I strongly believe the pricing wars between the carriers will eventually mean that unlimited plans are no longer just affecting the high end customers. At that time, the carriers will have every reason to try and transfer their network loads over to the broadband connection in the home, if they aren’t getting paid extra for it, why would they want to deal with it?

    • You people must be being paid to post negative comments about UMA/GAN; T-mobile is setting up a business UMA package for areas in the office that do not get good cell tower signal, you are wrong, or you work for the Nokia President what you are saying is not realistic UMA is very popular right now evidently you need to go read some blogs about the matter and get better informed.

  5. It is not the lack of dual-mode handsets that keeps FMC from growing. The main factor is that cell operators are not pushing it because they stand to lose some traffic (both data and voice) through wifi. Like VoIP they will not react before they lose subscribers to FMC services. There are obvioulsy other reasons as well …. In a joint partnership model such as BT/Vodafone and Sprint/CableMSOs, it has proven to be tough to technically do the integration. And post integration the question is who owns the customer if both partners provision the customer inside their databases like HLR. In the enterprise space, PBX vendors have been slow in certifying FMC solutions since this could prove to be a threat to their desktop phone business once your mobile phone becomes your only phone.

  6. Handsets have been the drag on UMA and this news from Nokia does not send an encouraging signal. Nokia has been a strong UMA ally. Steve’s point is correct, Orange’s uniq service is doing well and UMA with dual mode handsets will deliver in niches rather than masses. On another note, there is enough of momentum of WiFi in the enterprise to allow Voice over WiFi to go mainstream. It may not be however through dual-mode handsets unfortunately. It will likely be through WiFi enabled devices – laptops or other handhelds. The case for dual-mode handsets got weakened not just becuase of technical reasons only. The main promise of a dual-mode handset was to get mobility with a single device within and outside the enterprise. Most people fail to see that it was the blackberry that has subtley delivered on this promise leaving dual-mode handsets in the lurch