Operators Take First Steps to Convergence With UMA, Finds Report

Mobile network operators are taking a cautious approach to wireless LAN and IP access with the adoption of UMA, says Unstrung Insider

Dec 14, 2005

Mobile operators looking to deploy Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) to kick-start fixed/mobile convergence must quickly integrate it with other, more disruptive, IP-based services to make the gamble pay off, according to a new report from the subscription research service Unstrung Insider (www.unstrung.com/insider).

The report, entitled Wireless VOIP & UMA: Friends or Foes?, provides an assessment of the forces that are driving UMA adoption, combined with analysis of UMA technology, standards, equipment provider initiatives, and operator deployment scenarios. The focus is on how UMA can exploit a narrow window of opportunity (around three years) before SIP-WiFi and IMS solutions are standardized, mature, and ready for the mass market.

"UMA appeals to operators because it's standardized, it works, and it preserves the traditional call model," says Unstrung Insider analyst Gabriel Brown. "But to develop services with truly mass-market appeal, UMA must integrate with more disruptive IP-based mechanisms, such as SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) and wireline VOIP."

Potential integration scenarios could include a service that uses UMA for seamless in-call mobile handover in combination with fixed-line communications services to the home that use SIP-based call control, with each service integrated in the service provider's back office to provide common features such as a single bill, cross-platform network presence, and shared address books.

Among the report's key findings:

   * UMA is being used a marketing tool to show investors that M&A between
     wireline and wireless players, partially justified as "positioning for
     convergence," can produce integrated services relatively rapidly.

   * UMA is not just about low-cost access; it also has a role in creating
     new types of converged services, including integration with SIP-based
     applications or the delivery of high-speed multimedia services to
     handheld devices in the home.

   * Home gateways are a thorny issue for telcos. To gain the control they
     want over subscribers, they will likely have to ship and support
     subsidized CPE and build this into the service price over a long

   * Handset choice is the primary challenge to UMA. A large selection would
     help operators overcome their concerns about the impact of UMA on their
     business models.

   * On the infrastructure side, Motorola and Alcatel appear most committed
     to UMA. Both vendors can use it as a small but effective component of
     their strategies to expand their presence in the mobile core (which is
     relatively less than their peers) and can link it to other convergence
     initiatives in which they are involved.

Service providers covered in this report: BT Group plc (NYSE: BT) (LONDON: BTA) ; Cingular Wireless LLC (a joint venture of BellSouth Corp. [NYSE: BLS] and AT&T Inc. [NYSE: T]); KT Corp. (NYSE: KTC); Orange SA (a subsidiary of France Telecom SA [NYSE/Paris: FTE]); Saunalahti Group Oyj (Helsinki: SAG1V); SunCom Wireless Inc. (NYSE: TPC); Telecom Italia SpA (NYSE: TI); TeliaSonera AB (Pink Sheets: TLSNF; Stockholm: TLSN); and T-Mobile USA Inc. (a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom AG [NYSE: DT; Germany: DTE]).

Equipment providers in this report: Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGE); Azaire Networks Inc.; Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO); Ericsson AB (NASDAQ: ERICY:)(NASDAQ: Stockholm:)(NASDAQ: ERIC); Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT); Netrake Corp.; Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK; Helsinki: NOK1V); and Reef Point Systems Inc.

Wireless VOIP & UMA: Friends or Foes? is available as part of an annual subscription (12 monthly issues) to Unstrung Insider, priced at $1,350. Individual reports are available for $900. To subscribe, please visit: www.unstrung.com/insider.

For additional information, to request a free executive summary of the report, or for details of multi-user licensing options, please contact:

Jeff Claudino
  Director of Sales
  Insider Research Services

For press inquiries, members of the media may contact Gabriel Brown at brown@unstrung.com.

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SOURCE: Unstrung Insider

CONTACT: Jeff Claudino, Director of Sales, Insider Research Services,
+1-619-229-9940, or claudino@lightreading.com, or Media, Gabriel Brown,
brown@unstrung.com, both of Unstrung Insider

Web site: http://www.lightreading.com/