Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Predictions for UMA 2007

Well, it’s that time of the year, when we take stock of where we have come from and evaluate where we are going. 2006 was very good for UMA technology, four launches by well known operators. But what’s the prognosis for 2007? More of the same?

Handsets models available will more than double

This is an easy one. Today Samsung, Nokia and Motorola each have a UMA device available. But Nokia has already announced a second unit and it’s easy to see new models coming from Samsung and Motorola. Then rumors abound about RIM and Sagem jumping into the market. But the UMAer has some inside information about some early players in the UMA handset market coming back strong in 2007 with new units. Double? Perhaps we should say triple the units in 2007.

Subscriber counts will go through the roof...

Well, that depends on how high the roof is, but if the UMA roof is 1m subscribers in 2007, then rest assured that we’ll see far more than that. Orange quietly predicted 1m subscribers in 2007 in France alone. That’s just under 5% of their total mobile base in France. If France, UK and Spain all get 5% subscriber penetration in 2007, Orange alone will have about 2m subscribers on UMA. T-Mobile in the US, with 25m subscribers, will likely do a similar number depending on how early in the year the service launches. But I happen to believe T-Mobile will have 1m UMA subscribers on net in 2007.

The others: Telecom Italia needs to resolve political issues before any significant traction will start, but indications are that the dust is settling. Telia, with all their excellent work, only has 1.5m mobile subscribers in Denmark. Saunalahti, committed to announcing their service in 2006. But let’s not forget the granddaddy of UMA offer, BT Fusion, which recently added Wi-Fi to the service offer. Subscriber counts are rumored to be anywhere from 30,000 to (a now discredited) 100,000. Unfortunately, at this point it’s clear Fusion isn’t going to be the 1m subscriber service they hoped for.

More operators launch service

UMA service is available in FR, UK, IT, ES, PL, NL, DK and FI. Not bad, but that’s with four service providers. The trend I believe will happen in 2007 is that a second operator in those countries will jump in with a UMA service to responds with a competitive threat. We should see at least four new operator/country launches in 2007.

VCC will actually be understood by the market

2006 was a year of VCC hype. VCC is the great white hope of fixed line operators everywhere to reign in FMS and put mobile calling back on the fixed network. Few of those discussing the “benefits” of VCC actually understand what it can, and far more importantly, what it can NOT do. My prediction is that in 2007 the market will actually understand what VCC can and can’t do.

Soon the market will uncover VCC. The “success” of T-One and other fixed line dual mode services will come to light and it will serve to highlight that UMA is the long term strategy for converging mobile and WiFi technologies.

So, are these really “predictions”? The UMAer has a lot of inside information. Perhaps this is just foreshadowing.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Well, now that there is a study, it’s true. When asked what constitutes fixed-mobile convergence service, 75% of the respondents in a recent study proposed by FMC vendor Outsmart said dual mode handsets (DMH).

But FMC can mean many things, others mentioned in the survey include single billing (34%), a home zone rate plan (27%), voice mail convergence (13%) or a “Skype-like” solution (9%).

I think the funniest one in the list is the homezone rate plan, which presumably is the concept of giving consumers lower cost mobile calling when they are in a certain cell zone in their homes. This is, of course, a completely cellular solution with no reliance on the fixed network, ironic in an FMC survey.

We here at UMAToday have discussed the differences of FMC and FMS in the past. The conclusion was that UMA fits into either camp. So if DMH = UMA, and DMH = FMC, then UMA must equal FMC.

Given that FMC is being viewed as the business case driver for IMS, and now we know that DMH = FMC, it’s no wonder why there is so much pressure to get the pending VCC specification completed. VCC is the specification to make DMH work which equals FMC which is the business case driver for IMS.

The math is getting pretty complicated.

For some reason, I thought FMC was about helping operators lower operational costs by bringing disparate fixed and mobile networks together as well as providing a common service architecture. I guess it’s simpler than that, FMC = DMH.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Fixed-Mobile Substitution in Germany

The Wall Street Journal reported today about the continued management shake-up at Deutsche Telekom.

For those following at home, last month Kai-Uwe Ricke who ran all of DT was replaced by Rene Obermann, previously the head of T-Mobile.

In today’s announcement, Hamid Akhavan, formerly the CTO of T-Mobile, will now head the division. Robert Dotson, CEO of T-Mobile US, will now report directly to DT’s executive board, a move designed to raise the visibility of the unit.

And most interesting, Timotheus Hottges, who was the sales and services executive at T-Mobile, succeeds Walter Raizner as the CEO of T-Com, the fixed line unit of DT. Interesting, now DT is lead by mobile-raised executives.

FMC means a lot of things, but one dimension is politically how the fixed unit and mobile units of an integrated operator converge. It seems obvious, but the consumer brands of these company’s is moving from fixed to mobile (witness Orange over France Telecom). DT’s announcements serve to highlight that now, at least in Germany, the future is mobile.

Given that UMA is for mobile operator and the mobile side of an integrated operator, this continues to be good news.

VCC, of course, is fixed-line operator-centric, and continues to face an uphill battle in the continuing FMC debates.