Friday, October 27, 2006

T-Mobile... Finally

Well, for us in the UMA community, the launch of T-Mobile’s service in Seattle this week comes with a big sigh of... FINALLY! T-Mobile has been refining their service offer for months and completed an incredible amount of pre-market validation, through multiple, exhaustive trials to work through issues.

The result is a targeted service launch designed to start slow but quickly roll out across the country. The rumor is that you can take your UMA phone to any T-Mobile hotspot in the country and it will work, i.e. the entire T-Mo US footprint has been provisioned with the service.

In fact I was talking to one analyst who was taking the phone to Korea to see if the service would work over Wi-Fi from the hotel. That’s one way to get GSM phones to work in a CDMA environment.

The one comment I’ve heard several times now is that the $20/month price point seems high. I think this is classic early market adopter pricing. There is a certain percentage of the market with high demand and low price sensitivity, and T-Mobile might as well capture what revenues they can from that market now while they are the only provider in the market.

But it doesn’t take a genius to look ahead a couple years. $20 becomes $15, which becomes $10, then $5... then does voice over Wi-Fi (in the home and office) simply become free as part of a $40/month cellular plan?

With UMA, T-Mobile’s cost structure is optimized to support such a service plan. The interesting question is, what do the other operators do?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

How's your Dutch?

Today Orange Netherlands went live with their Unique service offer.

My Dutch is a bit rusty, but it looks like the offer is similar to the France offer, with a twist...

In addition to the mobile and fixed calling, it looks like Unique offers €2,5/min calling to other countries.

Orange is certainly making good on their commitment to roll out service to their lead markets quickly. I suspect we'll see the UK next.

T-Mobile's HotSpot @Home

Check out this excellent flash demo for the new HotSpot @Home service from T-Mobile US.

There hasn't been any press from T-Mobile about the service yet, but this flash looks like T-Mo is ready to go.

UPDATE: The NY Times ran an article on the service today, but I think Engadget has excellent coverage:

Monday, October 23, 2006

Orange tags the city unik

From our eyes/ears on the streets of Paris, unik, Orange's UMA service offering, appears to the primary message on billboards around town.

In the picture here, you can see unik/handsets advertised on three billboards on the street corner here

And we found unik advertised in the Paris subway:

But my favorite is "unik in lights":

Both the Samsung P200 and the Nokia 6136 handsets are the lead devices for the service. More news as the initial customer feedback comes in. Anyone out there with the service today?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

UMA and IMS in San Diego

The IMS Expo, held in conjunction with the Internet Telephony show in San Diego last week, featured a panel titled “The Role of UMA and IMS in Converged Networks”. It was a full panel, with 5 speakers scheduled for just 45 minutes. But moderator Michael Khalilian from the IMS Forum kept things moving.

With presentations from Stoke, Hellosoft, Azaire, Infineon and Kineto, the panel had a solid cross section of views and approaches to convergence networks. Yet from a UMA perspective, the panel was quite open to UMA.

Kineto, of course, focused on how UMA and IMS are complementary technologies. The presentation also covered how UMA can be used to provide mobility for IMS data applications today.

Infineon focused on how UMA can be used to deliver fixed line VoIP services with new UMA-enabled terminal adaptors.

Azaire commented on how their solution provides security across the spectrum of approaches for IMS to UMA.

Hellosoft presented architecturally how their client works showing how similar UMA and their IMS/VCC client. In fact, the presenter made a point of showing that IMS applications would easily run over a UMA transport layer.

Stoke rounded out the presentations by discussing their feedback from carriers on IMS applications and the role UMA-enabled handsets may play in the future.

For their part, the IMS Forum talked about their work in standardizing FMC within IMS and some of the challenges with the standard currently in development known as VCC.

While traffic on the fourth/last day of any show is bound to be light, the IMS Expo overall was a great success. The organizers saw the value of bringing together UMA and IMS technologies together to make a strong statement to the industry.

With any luck, we’ll get to do it again at IMS Expo 2007.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Vodafone dumps Carphone Warehouse

In an article reported by Tony Dennis at the Inquirer, Vodafone today announced it has cancelled it’s contract with retail outlet Carphone Warehouse, who has become increasingly aggressive in delivering mobile services as well as fixed-line broadband.

The deal, announced today, severs ties between Vodafone and CPW, and announces a new partnership between Voda and Phones 4U, a retailer with more than 300 outlets across the UK.

The announcement comes on the heels of Carphone unveils ‘free’ broadband)

For it's part, recall that on Sep 11th Vodafone announced that it was entering the UK fixed line broadband market after striking a deal with BT (Voda makes UK broadband move).

Why is this interesting for UMA?

Well, it serves to highlight just how important mobile and fixed broadband technologies are for mobile service providers going forward. As a mobile retail outlet for Voda, CPW is not a threat. But their aggressive moves into the fixed line broadband market, and Voda’s equally aggressive response, show that the convergence of fixed and mobile is the new battle ground in subscriber ownership.

Tell me what you think...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

T-Mobile to partner with Apple iPhone?

The rumors continue to fly...

As reported at T3 (“The world’s No. 1 gadget mag”), it is rumored that T-Mobile may scoop Cingular for the release of the still rumored Apple iPhone.

The implication is that T-Mobile’s investment in both UMA technology as well as 3G spectrum make it better fit for the requirements of an iPhone.

Just speculating here, but it does makes sense. An average song from iTunes is roughly 5 mbps, and a 1 hr TV show runs about 200 mbps. To be useful and profitable for the consumer, existing 3G technology just won’t cut it for multimedia downloads.

However, with UMA and Wi-Fi, T-Mobile offers Apple a very high speed, very low cost broadband access network with seamless mobility to the existing cellular network. Downloading multimedia over 802.11 is cost effective and extremely fast for both the operator and the consumer.

Does UMA give operators the upper hand in new multi-media applications and service delivery? We’ll have to wait to see how this plays out.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Mobile Operator Vodafone Goes Fixed

In a story reported by Martyn Warwick at Telecom TV, Vodafone’s Arun Sarin said that by 2010 at the latest, 10% of the mobile company’s revenues would come from fixed-line internet, office and domestic communication services.

Stressing that the mobile sector is under incredible price pressure, with mobile call costs “falling by more than 10 per cent per year”, the company said it will look to Home Zone, Office Zone and DSL products to reduce the downward price pressure.

The story went on to say that Vodafone with announce further network sharing and outsourcing agreements in the near future.

Sounds like an excellent opportunity for UMA technology.