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Recent Entries

T-Mobile Adds Two New Phones for Unlimited Wi-Fi Calling
T-Mobile Drops HotSpot@Home Price to $9.99, Even for Families
BT Drops Consumer Fusion Marketing
T-Mobile Adds Flip-phone to UMA Service
Brief Review of the BlackBerry 8320 with T-Mobile HotSpot@Home
T-Mobile Adds Fresh BlackBerry to Converged Calling Service
Nokia Unveils New UMA Model
Femtocells, Finally! Sprint Rolls out Samsung Device
Times's Pogue Gives T-Mobile HotSpot@Home a Rave
T-Mobile Launches UMA Nationwide in U.S.

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Category: UMA

June 23, 2008

T-Mobile Adds Two New Phones for Unlimited Wi-Fi Calling

By Glenn Fleishman

T-Mobile brings in the Nokia 6301 and Samsung SGH-t339 for its converted cell/Wi-Fi HotSpot@Home service: The two new phones extend T-Mobile’s offerings to 8 handsets for this service. The Nokia 6301 is designed to look more like a home cordless phone and has a stand-up charger for convenience. Both phones can be used with unlimited voice plans and MyFaves calling plans that allow unmetered calls to five numbers on any domestic carrier or landline service.

Posted by Glennf at 10:43 AM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2008

T-Mobile Drops HotSpot@Home Price to $9.99, Even for Families

By Glenn Fleishman

T-Mobile snuck in a price drop that current subscribers need to ask for: As of Feb. 6, the company’s HotSpot@Home plan, now called HotSpot@Home Talk Forever, is $9.99 per month regardless of the number of lines on your account. The service allows more or less unlimited calls placed or received over Wi-Fi (even if you roam onto cell during the call).

If you’re a current subscriber paying $19.99 per month or more with extra lines, you need to call T-Mobile to request the price change, which seems a bit chintzy.

Posted by Glennf at 7:27 PM | Comments (0)

February 8, 2008

BT Drops Consumer Fusion Marketing

By Glenn Fleishman reports that UK-based BT’s much ballyhooed Fusion converged cell/Wi-Fi service has 45,000 residential customers, marketing plans dropped: It may have something to do with the handsets, reports. The business side has gone better, with 100,000 business users, to whom the service is still being pitched. But the combined numbers are pretty small for the nearly year in the marketplace. This may bode poorly for T-Mobile’s HotSpot@Home converged service for which subscriber numbers haven’t been disclosed. BT is in the reverse position of T-Mobile, selling DSL and landlines, but having no cell phone business. Both firms have extensive hotspot networks.

Posted by Glennf at 9:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 11, 2007

T-Mobile Adds Flip-phone to UMA Service

By Glenn Fleishman

T-Mobile now offers the Katalyst from Samsung for its HotSpot@Home service: The converged Wi-Fi/cell calling plan now has four phones, including two simpler models, a BlackBerry, and this $80 offering (mail-in rebate, two-year commitment).

Posted by Glennf at 1:48 PM | Comments (0)

October 26, 2007

Brief Review of the BlackBerry 8320 with T-Mobile HotSpot@Home

By Glenn Fleishman

PC World likes the BlackBerry 8320 paired with T-Mobile’s converged UMA calling service: They found some drops when roaming from Wi-Fi to GSM (something I found way back in early testing a year ago), but were generally happy with the combination of cost and services.

Posted by Glennf at 9:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 24, 2007

T-Mobile Adds Fresh BlackBerry to Converged Calling Service

By Glenn Fleishman

T-Mobile will offers the BlackBerry Curve 8320 for HotSpot@Home converged cell/Wi-Fi calling: The new phone is part of Research in Motion’s wave of more media-savvy smartphones, including a two-mexapixel camera and music and video playback. This is the first advanced phone available for HotSpot@Home making it more appealing to a broader audience.

Posted by Glennf at 9:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 20, 2007

Nokia Unveils New UMA Model

By Glenn Fleishman

The 6301 will cost €230 ($322) and ship in fourth quarter: The phone, targeted for Europe, is the first model released since major UMA networks were unveiled in the UK, Italy, and the U.S., among other localities. Nokia made one of the first UMA phones, and I found it find, but rather limited. The 6301 seems to be about the same. The BlackBerry 8820 with Wi-Fi introduced by AT&T this week as an exclusive includes UMA among its extensive set of features—except that AT&T isn’t using UMA, so it’s wasted on the U.S. market.

Posted by Glennf at 11:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 19, 2007

Femtocells, Finally! Sprint Rolls out Samsung Device

By Glenn Fleishman

The first commercial rollout of an in-home cell-to-broadband gateway comes from Sprint: Sprint sold its landline business, and thus they have more motivation to get cell callers to move their dollars from wire to wireless. Reports are that they’re offering a limited rollout of a Samsung femtocell, a tiny cell base station that uses licensed frequencies, with a connection to a consumer’s broadband Internet service. The markets covered are Denver and Indianapolis.

Femtocells differ from unlicensed mobile access (UMA), in that UMA uses, well, unlicensed 2.4 GHz bandwidth; femtocells using licensed frequencies can push out higher-powered signals and have no competition for the bandwidth. Further, femtocells can work with any existing handset; UMA requires new handsets that combine cell (GSM only at this point) and Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. That’s not as big a deal as it used to be, with nearly 100 handsets in production or in the  market that match Wi-Fi with cell.

The service costs $50 for the device and $15 per month for unlimited local and U.S. calling. It’s called an Airave, and won’t hit nationally until 2008. Femtocells have to account for the part of the country in which they operate as each carrier owns a specific set of spectrum licenses in each geographic area. Any Sprint handset can work with the femtocell.

The cost of femtocells is estimated to be in the hundreds of dollars, making the subsidized $50 price seem rather low. But Alan Nogee of In-State is quoted with an excellent observation in this PC World article: he notes that because most home calling falls into the free weekend/evening minute category anyway, cell carriers aren’t making additional revenue. He didn’t note, too, that if you have a large minute plan, the carriers would prefer you use fewer minutes until you run over when they’d rather you pay lots of overages.

Thus, any minute pulled from a pool that’s then not used or any minute that would have been carried for free as part of a weekend/evening plan that is now part of an additional $15/month in revenue is a savings in cell carriage and an increase in revenue from the monthly fee. I like it. It also keeps people loyal to Sprint.

With UMA, depending on the network, customers can get no-minutes-used calling at hotspots, which isn’t an option with femtocells.

I’ve been dubious about femtocells because their availability is always next year or the year after, no matter how many years back you talk about them. The cost remains high, and it’s got a fixed-location utility. T-Mobile can use UMA to give people free calls at 8,500 locations in the U.S. in addition to home. Sprint can give people…better reception at home. So we’ll see if the quality issue combined with a Vonage-like pricing plan is enough to get people to give up landlines. Since people still need broadband, which is often coupled or bundled with landline or voice service, there’s a question there about whether femtocells are thus compelling enough, too, to replace that.

Posted by Glennf at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)

July 4, 2007

Times's Pogue Gives T-Mobile HotSpot@Home a Rave

By Glenn Fleishman

David Pogue is unabashedly positive about the converged calling plan offered by T-Mobile: The service was announced a week ago, and an all-iPhone, all-the-time period, it was hard for them to get coverage. That might have been intentional. They didn’t steal any of AT&T’s thunder, but their offering has quietly gotten a lot of positive reviews. Where AT&T’s iPhone plan is incrementally more expensive through the data service on top of voice, T-Mobile service will likely reduce people’s phone bills by allowing them to drop their minutes’ plan and drop a homeline. This saves T-Mobile money, too, by routing more calls over a cheaper transport, gaining more customers, and reducing churn. Cell carriers spent hundreds of dollars per customer to acquire them or to keep them.

Pogue finds the whole package terrific. He’s not a big fan of the initial phones or their battery life, but he knows that there will be better phones in the future. He’s enthusiastic about the non-zero-sum-game aspect, however, in which both customers and the carrier reduce expenses.

Posted by Glennf at 2:56 PM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2007

T-Mobile Launches UMA Nationwide in U.S.

By Glenn Fleishman

T-Mobile re-launched its HotSpot@Home service today across the U.S.: The service, initially offered just in Washington state since last fall, is now available nationally with new phones models, new router models, and a modified pricing plan, along with a short-term lifetime pricing reduction. See the main article at Wi-Fi Networking News about the launch.

Posted by Glennf at 9:13 AM | Comments (0)

June 18, 2007

250,000 Unik Phones Sold by Orange France

By Glenn Fleishman

The converged calling service Unik is seeing a fast uptake: Orange France has sold 250,000 of its Wi-Fi/GSM phones since its launch, exceeding a target of 200,000 units. The phones cost €9 to €79, but only 60 percent of buyers have turned on the Wi-Fi calling feature. Orange France charges €10 for unlimited calls to fixed lines and €22 per month for unlimited calls to Orange mobile numbers (23m of those). Orange claims it operates 30,000 hotspots to facilitate Wi-Fi only calling, but that number seems awfully high.

Posted by Glennf at 3:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Cincinnati Bell Wireless Offers Limited Converged Calling

By Glenn Fleishman

Cincinnati Bell Wireless is offering Wi-Fi/cell handsets for calling on local hotspots, cell network: The UMA handsets are $65 with a $15 rebate; $10 per month buys unlimited calls over Wi-Fi. The cell operator has 300 hotspots in Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio. Not mentioned is whether the carrier offers a home router with better features for VoIP calling (like improved power management).

Posted by Glennf at 1:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 31, 2007

France Telecom Releases UMA Usage Figures

By Glenn Fleishman

Dean Bubley reports on a webcast from Kineto Wireless (backend) and Orange, France Telecom’s wireless provider: Bubley notes that France Telecom claims 4.8m LiveBox gateways installed and over 140,000 Unik subscriptions, its service name for unlicensed mobile access (UMA). They said that 15 to 20 percent of calls placed involve a handoff between cellular and Wi-Fi.

Posted by Glennf at 10:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 21, 2007

Femtocells Still Searching for Market, But Getting Closer

By Glenn Fleishman

RadioFrame has been working on femtocells for eight years, but haven’t sold a one yet: The technology of a femtocell, a pint-sized cellular network transceiver that plugs into home broadband, would allow a cell carrier to extend its network using its licensed frequencies into a home or office. Office buildings and airports already use microcells—also manufactured by RadioFrame—to ensure good signal coverage indoors. Bringing femtocells into homes would allow good reception and incremental revenue for carriers.

Femtocells face competition from unlicensed mobile access (UMA), which appears to have a headstart, despite the fact that UMA requires new handsets that mix cell and Wi-Fi (or sometimes Bluetooth) in a single phone. Femtocell-based calling wouldn’t require that a user change their handset at all. However, RadioFrame says it needs to get costs down to $150 for a femtocell to make it cost effective.

UMA has gotten a leg up through BT’s Fusion deloyment in the UK, although the early numbers there aren’t promising yet, but that might have something to do with only first-generation UMA handsets being available. T-Mobile will reportedly roll out UMA from its Washington State-only offering now to the whole US next month. The Wi-Fi Alliance is pushing UMA because they have a couple different standards that improve voice quality and battery life that they’ve been working closely with converged handset makers to adopt, as well as consumer and corporate Wi-Fi gateway manufacturers.

RadioFrame most likely is sitting on a pile of patents, too, which might be part of their long-term strategy: if femtocells take off, they can net licensing dollars as well as direct sales of their own equipment.

Posted by Glennf at 5:10 PM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2007

Wall Street Journal Covers UMA

By Glenn Fleishman

The Journal looks at Unlicensed Mobile Access and IMS worldwide: The article paints a very fair picture of the quality and cost of UMA, and why it’s typically being used today (for better indoor coverage). There’s a nice description of the evolution of cellular towards IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem), and some notes about how people can make phone calls over Wi-Fi from some smartphones using third-party software, a potential challenge to both UMA and IMS’s voice side.

Interesting that BT acknowledges the cheapness of handling calls over Wi-Fi and broadband that the customer separately pays for: they offer four UMA minutes as the equivalent of one cell minute in their calling plans, which conforms to what I’ve been told about call completion costs (4 or 5 cents a minute for cell, 1 cent a minute for UMA/broadband).

Femotcells are mentioned briefly, but the Journal says their availability isn’t near-term.

Posted by Glennf at 12:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 2, 2007

Looking at VoIP Handsets: InformationWeek, NY Times

By Glenn Fleishman

Two round-ups of VoIP options, some of which include Wi-Fi: InformationWeek offers an exhaustive look at VoIP calling, including round up the services, the handsets, and the technologies, including UMA (unlicensed mobile access) via T-Mobile. David Pogue at the NY Times focuses on long-distance calling, and looks at the most popular and convenient options.

Posted by Glennf at 8:51 AM | Comments (0)

January 7, 2007

BT Launches UMA Tomorrow

By Glenn Fleishman

The largest rollout of unlicensed mobile access (UMA) is expected by BT tomorrow: While you can find UMA, which uses Wi-Fi as an extension of a cellular network, in Italy, Sweden, and the US, none of those deployments are very large yet. T-Mobile requires you to go to a corporate store in Washington State, where I live, to obtain  their HotSpot@Home service.

BT, on the other hand, is apparently ready to supercede its short-range Bluetooth-based UMA with Wi-Fi, which would work with in-home Wi-Fi gateways as well as BT OpenZone, thousands of hotspots across the UK. The Inquirer says that three handsets will be offered initially: the Nokia 6136 (also sold by T-Mobile), Motorola A910, and Samsung P200. (T-Mobile offers an alternate Samsung model that has gotten poor reviews.)

Initially, BT will sell the service nationally to its existing broadband customers.

Posted by Glennf at 5:28 PM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2006

Review of T-Mobile's UMA Service

By Glenn Fleishman

I review T-Mobile HotSpot@Home in today’s New York Times: Read my further analysis over at Wi-Fi Networking News.

Posted by Glennf at 10:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 1, 2006

T-Mobile's HotSpot@Home May Challenge Other Operators

By Glenn Fleishman

Interesting piece about how T-Mobile, without cable and landlines, uses UMA for challenge: The converged unlicensed mobile access (UMA) roll-out in Seattle by T-Mobile is a foray in their attempt to build their market in the U.S. The company recently acquired billions of dollars worth of 3G spectrum, which they’ll spend billions to install. They have no wired landlines in the U.S.—as opposed to Cingular’s parent firms, Verizon, and until recently Sprint—and they aren’t associated with cable operators, which is Sprint’s major alignment at this point.

The UMA service offers ostensibly seamless roaming between cell and Wi-Fi networks, but even more importantly, reduces the cost to both the operator and the customer in delivering voice on the Wi-Fi side. T-Mobile’s HotSpot@Home plan requires at least a $40/month voice subscription, but costs just $20 per month for unlimited U.S. calls over the Wi-Fi side of the network. That’s comparable to most VoIP packages—although most VoIP lines include unlimited landline calls to Canada, Europe, and Australia, too. Each additional line in a family plan costs just $5 more per month for unlimited calling, make the overall package even cheaper for a larger family.

The article notes that the Wi-Fi calling won’t conform to federal E911 regulations, and when testing the service, I had to sign and agree to disclaimers regarding E911 service.

Posted by Glennf at 3:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 26, 2006

Roaming by Phone with Wi-Fi (NY Times)

By Glenn Fleishman

The New York Times weighs in on voice over Wi-Fi in the wild: Matt Richtel files a lighthearted story about using a Wi-Fi phone from Belkin that handles Skype voice calls. He notes that it will be increasingly likely that strangers might use unprotected Wi-Fi networks to make phone calls—which will probably disappoint those piggybackers. While purposely public Wi-Fi networks will be located in places that people will frequent and typically designed to provide strong signal strength throughout an area, a hijacked signal might ebb and flow and not be great for phone calls.

That’s why there’s such interest in UMA (unlicensed mobile access) and similar technologies or approaches that will allow either seamless or manually switched service on both cell and Wi-Fi networks. A weak signal on one leads to usage on the other. T-Mobile, as noted in the article, has an offering available just in my home market of Seattle right now; Richtel says the service is in testing, but it’s actually commercially available for purpose at any T-Mobile corporate-owned store and perhaps their affiliates. I’ve only checked with the corporate stores.

Posted by Glennf at 1:55 PM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2006

T-Mobile Launches UMA in Seattle

By Glenn Fleishman

TmobileathomeThe New York Times reports that T-Mobile has launched its converged cell/Wi-Fi service in Seattle: It’s in my own backyard, but I haven’t seen it yet! The service will run $20 per month above a normal voice plan, which must be at least $40 per month. Two handsets are available, which cost $50 with a two-year service commitment. This service also requires a T-Mobile router, which the company charges for but offers a full rebate (the cost wasn’t mentioned). The service allows Wi-Fi roaming onto the T-Mobile HotSpot network, which comprises mostly Starbucks, but a few other chains, including Hyatt Hotels. The new service’s name is T-Mobile HotSpot @Home.

The requirement of a specific router relates to the low-power mode of handsets that needs a particular protocol embedded in the router to work—WMM Power Save. Few routers have this right now, but it’s really a protocol-level feature, not a hardware change. However, it does require Wi-Fi Alliance certification if you want to use the label on the product, and thus adds cost at that level.

The Seattle launch is a trial of unknown duration. The article also states that T-Mobile hasn’t said when it will launch nationally.

Update: There’s more information at, including the useful information that Wi-Fi minutes are unlimited (which usually means there are limits, but I can’t find disclosure at the site). At $20 per month, this is a very clever move on T-Mobile’s part, because it underprices similar VoIP offerings, and yet is untethered from VoIP. The Web site is also a place to sign up with T-Mobile for notification when they add HotSpot @Home to your market.

This strategy of unlimited works well for T-Mobile. They currently offer a $30 per month package of unlimited GPRS/EDGE, and unlimited Wi-Fi usage on their network. That package also requires a $40 minimum voice plan. With the @Home offering, you could spend $50 per month for unlimited VoIP over Wi-Fi, mobile data (slow), and mobile data (fast).

It’s extremely compelling, and I’m a happy Cingular user. However, I have Speakeasy VoIP at home and at the office which I might be able to get rid of in favor of T-Mobile’s plan. We’ll see how this shakes out. What I’d really like is a way to tie in an ATA at home and the office so that I could use a mobile phone or a landline-like phone, too. [Web site link via GigaOm]

Posted by Glennf at 7:50 AM | Comments (5)

October 6, 2006

T-Mobile Confirms UMA Launch

By Glenn Fleishman

T-Mobile will start trying out unlicensed mobile access (UMA) later this year: The head of the telco said the service would be tried in a “city near and dear to our hearts,” meaning my hometown of Seattle. T-Mobile USA is headquartered not in Seattle, but close by, on I-90 east of Lake Washington. UMA offers calling over cell and Wi-Fi networks with seamless roaming as a caller moves between them. Some pre-UMA and UMA-like services can call from either network or require switching a phone between modes. The date of testing and launch, as well as pricing, were not announced.

Posted by Glennf at 7:29 PM | Comments (0)

September 26, 2006

Orange's UMA Launch with unik

By Glenn Fleishman

HowdoesitworkThe unlicensed mobile access (UMA) service launches Oct. 5: The unik service has standard cell performance, but includes unlimited fixed-line calls (metropolitan France) and calls to Orange mobile numbers when near a Livebox, a Wi-Fi gateway that can be located at home or work (or both). Calls started while near a Livebox remain fee-free even if you walk away and out onto the cell network. Several phones can be linked to the Livebox, and up to three phones may placed unlimited calls via the Wi-Fi side of the network under a single plan.

unik’s initial release is limited to the first 100,000 customers requesting service. There are two plans for domestic French calling, one covering unlimited fixed-line calls (€10/month); the other adding unlimited calls to Orange mobile lines (€22/month). unik works with the Nokia 6136, the Samsung P200, and Motorola A910. The first two phones will be available in October; the Motorola in November. Handset prices start at €99.

Posted by Glennf at 1:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 28, 2006

TeliaSonera Claims First Commercial UMA Launch in November

By Glenn Fleishman

The Finnish/Swedish cell giant will offer converged calling: The service will launch in Denmark, and try to convince potential subscribers to drop their wired landline in favor of broadband plus mobile. Motorola will be the equipment provider. The Motorola A910 might be the handset, but this report couldn’t confirm that. The key for this service, Motorola said, is that cost for UMA in the home (the Wi-Fi part of the equation) must not be more expensive than comparable wired landline service.

Posted by Glennf at 7:15 PM | Comments (0)

August 25, 2006

T-Mobile Picks Nokia Phone for Launch

By Glenn Fleishman

6136 Main-1More rumors, this time that the Nokia 6136 UMA phone will be the second offered model in September: T-Mobile’s launch, perhaps on Sept. 12, of a converged cell/Wi-Fi calling service using UMA (unlicensed mobile access) picks up the latest detail, this time on handsets. Engadget Mobile reports that Nokia’s 6136, a stripped-down phone with basic capabilities, will be offered alongside a Samsung T709 at launch.

T-Mobile has no 3G offering, but the largest footprint of Wi-Fi hotspots in their native network. They also have no U.S. landline or wire partner. Thus, UMA plans in which Wi-Fi at home and at hotspots are charged at an enormously lower rate—perhaps even with unlimited Wi-Fi minutes—has to be appealing as a competitive feature.

Posted by Glennf at 11:24 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 16, 2006

T-Mobile UMA Launch Date, Perhaps?

By Glenn Fleishman

Katie Fehrenbacher reports at GigaOm that T-Mobile will launch its UMA service Sept. 12: The service will launch in Seattle, the home of the division of T-Mobile that handles Wi-Fi, and perhaps in San Francisco or Chicago. Fehrenbacher notes that UMA handsets might not be allowed to roam onto arbitrary hotspots, perhaps being locked to home units or approved networks. However, she doesn’t pick up on a related fact: that the WMM (Wireless Multimedia) Power Save mode is a necessary feature for both handset and Wi-Fi gateway to ensure that the handsets have decent talk time.

The Nokia 6136 UMA handset—introduced as a proof of concept, as it’s not in use anywhere yet—offers 5.5 hours of talk time via UMA over Wi-Fi, but only if what Nokia labels U-APSD is in the gateway. That’s a long abbreviation for what is more commonly known as WMM Power Save. This mode, found in many current chips, is a function of providing quality of service (QoS), in that it lets handsets reduce unnecessary transmissions and power use, making voice over IP over WLAN practical with a battery-powered handset.

Posted by Glennf at 1:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 15, 2006

BusinessWeek on T-Mobile, Others Convergence Plans

By Glenn Fleishman

BusinessWeek reports on T-Mobile’s testing of unlicensed mobile access (UMA): UMA converges cellular networks and Wi-Fi networks with a dual-mode phone acting as the conduit. The best network is used for calls by whatever standard the operator allows or requires and the consumers chooses, if they have a choice. The might mean the cheapest network (Wi-Fi over cell), the best quality (outdoors, probably cell over Wi-Fi, indoors the opposite), or a combination of factors based on a plan.

UMA isn’t rolled out yet, but T-Mobile solicited testers to try phones and Wi-Fi gear for “T-Mobile-At-Home.”  According to recent research I conducted, it’s clear that Wi-Fi routers in their present form aren’t ideal for UMA. Instead, a few new standards need to be added to better allow reduced power by UMA handsets and control quality of service. The latter, known as WME and part of the 802.11e standard, is becoming widely available, but the power-control standard for handsets is only in specialized gateways at present.

AT&T is also planning to introduce similar services, whether strictly UMA (a standard) or just a similar converged idea is unclear; it sounds more like a phone with a switch than automated seamless roaming. AT&T is in the middle of acquiring BellSouth, which would also give AT&T 100-percent control of Cingular Wireless, and allow more flexibility in their Wi-Fi and cellular plans for AT&T home customers.

The article also notes BT’s existing similar service (which uses Bluetooth, but will switch to Wi-Fi soon), and Hawaii Telecom’s hybrid wireline/cellular service. Hawaii Telecom uses automatic call forwarding based on location.

Verizon has a slight problem with this service, because they might migrate home landline users to Verizon Wireless, which is minority owned by Vodafone. This would send money out the door to this partner that they would otherwise retain in a landline market. Of course, Verizon could also see a DSL uptake, which the article doesn’t mention, and capture revenue in other markets where they have no landline business. Verizon told the reporter they have no converged calling plans on the table.

Posted by Glennf at 2:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 28, 2006

T-Mobile Talks up UMA (or the Equivalent)

By Glenn Fleishman

New York Times writes about voice over Wi-Fi without mentioning UMA: Matt Richtel writes about the complexities and side effects of pushing voice minutes from cell networks to Wi-Fi networks. While he fails to use the magic words Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA), the standard for seamless handoff that now has an incomprehensible name within the 3GPP standards group, he walks through the complicated details of how using Wi-Fi hotspots or home networks will shift minutes around.

It’s complicated because part of the charm of VoWLAN is moving minutes from cell phones, where you pay in advance for minutes you may or may not use, to either a cheaper metered service or an unlimited service. This has odd implications. Cellular operators can benefit from offloading minutes but keeping customers loyal. T-Mobile is well positioned for this with 7,000 hotspots. Except that their concern, in this article, is poaching landline minutes, as they don’t offer landline service or DSL in this country.

EarthLink makes a brief appearance, talking about Wi-Fi only phones that will cost relatively little, come with unlimited usage plans, and work across all their networks.

Posted by Glennf at 8:07 PM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2006

Nokia Tests Converged Roaming Way Up North in Finland

By Glenn Fleishman

The company is testing the service with 50 families near the polar circle in Oulu, Finland: Nokia is putting its cell/Wi-Fi roaming to the test in the bitter north. The service will reportedly use unlicensed mobile access (UMA), a standard for handling seamless handoff, accounting, and authentication for converged wireless phone use.

Posted by Glennf at 1:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 9, 2006

France Becomes Hotbed of Cell/Wi-Fi Calling

By Glenn Fleishman

Three carriers in France are rolling out converged calling: The combined cell/Wi-Fi phones won’t be cheap, but the benefits of using Wi-Fi for less-expensive calls would quickly outweigh the initial phone outlay. No pricing is yet noted, unfortunately, and this will probably only be available as part of a bundle. Don’t expect Wi-Fi-only calling plans.

Posted by Glennf at 1:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 16, 2006

De Facto UMA in Norway with Hello

By Glenn Fleishman

Hello launches converged Wi-Fi, cell voice services with single phone model: Users of Norway’s Hello network must use a Qtek phone to get the benefits of Wi-Fi/cell roaming for voice. The Windows Mobile-based telephone handles seamless switchovers between the cell network and VoWLAN-based telephony. Hello is an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator), reselling airtime from two Norwegian operators; it debuted in April.

Charges for the converged, de facto unlicensed mobile access (UMA) plans include one in which minutes are charged on top of a set monthly fee, with a different per-minute charges based on whether the cell or Wi-Fi network is used. (The story says Hello isn’t using UMA, which is a standard, but from the end user perspective, it walks and talks like UMA.)

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May 11, 2006

BT To Launch UMA for Business in 2007

By Glenn Fleishman

The UK telecom firm will offer Enterprise Fixed Mobile Convergence: It’s a fancy name that means dual-mode phones (GSM, GPRS, or 3G + Wi-Fi) will be able to make calls at a subscriber’s office or at BT Wi-Fi hotspots. The calls will be free within the office and at a much lower tariff elsewhere. Vodafone’s network will provide cell service, and Alcatel will provide the equipment.

BT won’t provide guidance on the service, which they expect to launch early next year, but a similar servic in France runs €9.99 for activation and €29.99 per month for broadband Internet, TV, and VoIP, or about $40 per month.

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April 30, 2006

UMA Imminent in U.S.?

By Glenn Fleishman

It’s finally coming—VoIP over Wi-Fi paired with cell using single phone plans: Motorola, Nokia, and Samsung should ship dual-mode Wi-Fi/cell phones supporting seamless UMA (unlicensed mobile access) handoff. Nokia’s announcement last week that it would embed iPass hotspot connection software in some phone models is part of that plan; the iPass software would allow an operator who resold Nokia handsets to choose to offer and enable service at the 50,000 iPass-aggregated hotspots worldwide.

While no U.S. carrier has announced UMA plans, there’s apparently a consensus among analysts that operators will jump on board. AT&T (formerly SBC) seems very likely to me given their soon-to-be 100-percent ownership of Cingular, their network of managed and roaming hotspots, and their push for Wi-Fi in the home to their DSL customers.

One analyst predicts T-Mobile will be first by early 2007. T-Mobile has several thousand hotspots in the U.S. that could leverage their out-of-home UMA plans.

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April 5, 2006

Kineto, Boingo Focus on UMA

By Glenn Fleishman

Unlicensed mobile access (UMA) appears to be hot topic at this week’s cell industry trade show: Boingo and Kineto on are that bandwagon, with Boingo bringing its hotspot aggregation and authentication platform to the party and Kineto its UMA system, which has both back-end and handset components. The collaboration will target Windows Mobile-5 devices.

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February 14, 2006

Nokia 6136 Has Seamless GSM, Wi-Fi Roaming

By Glenn Fleishman

Unlike previous dual-mode phones, this model can switch during a call between network types: This form of seamless roaming is the holy grail, as it allows a user to roam within a Wi-Fi signal and switch to the cheaper service; or to avoid a call being interrupted when walk out of Wi-Fi range. This phone is designed for operators who want to offer UMA to their customers. UMA services will offer substantially reduced rates for calls make over unlicensed (generally Wi-Fi) spectrum as the call will be carried over backhaul that the carrier doesn’t have to pay for or has fixed costs to cover.

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Motorola Phone Launches on BT Fusion

By Glenn Fleishman

Motorola’s A910 offers UMA access via Wi-Fi, cell via GSM on BT Fusion: The network allows UMA on a home Wi-Fi network and via BT OpenZone locations. Those calls are charged at BT’s landline rates; other calls traverse the GSM network and are charged accordingly.

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February 8, 2006

Philips Says Its Cell/UMA Phone Soon Sold in U.S.

By Glenn Fleishman

The semiconductor firm said its converged cellular/802.11g handset will be sold by a major operator in the U.S. soon: The handset relies in part on a partnership with Kineto (making the backend integration part for carriers) and networking giant Alcatel. This allows an end-to-end solution that’s technically coordinated for an operator to buy into. My guess? Cingular. They’ve made noises for a year about converged Wi-Fi/cell access and have extensive Wi-Fi operations as well as through parent AT&T (formerly SBC) a massive number of DSL customers to whom they have sold Wi-Fi gateways.

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September 22, 2005

UMA Handsets To Appear

By Glenn Fleishman

The Register reports that LG will ship the first UMA handset: UMA uses a local link to connect to a voice signal to an existing cellular infrastructure. Many analysts expect cell operators to push UMA as a way to move load from cell towers to home and office Wi-Fi (and even wired) networks. LG’s LG-CL400 handset should be the first to hit the U.S. market, Andrew Orlowski reports.

The article says that BenQ’s UMA PocketPC handset is slowly coming to market, while Nokia and Symbian will work with Kineto Wireless to produce UMA devices.

The key difference between Internet telephony using VoIP and UMA is that UMA doesn’t transit voice data over the public Internet. UMA will probably require partnerships with service providers to be entirely effective.

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