Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Unlimited nights and weekends... and home?!??!!

In the US, nearly every post-paid mobile calling plan comes with “unlimited nights and weekends”. This unlimited domestic plan offers calls any fixed or mobile number in the US outside of “normal business hours” and has become a staple of the US mobile market.

Currently T-Mobile is preparing the launch of their much-anticipated HotSpot@Home service. For a flat rate of $20/month, subscribers get unlimited calls to any fixed or mobile number in the US when the phone is connected over Wi-Fi/IP.

HotSpot@Home, as the name implies, is geared towards fixed-to-mobile substitution in the home, providing consumers no reason to use their fixed lines to make calls again.

Note that Vonage offers a similar service in the US, but for $25/month and with no seamless mobility to the GSM network.

The value of in-home calling in the US market had been set at roughly $25/month.

Then just weeks before T-Mobile’s launch, regional operator Cincinnati Bell launches “Home Run”, a calling plan similar to T-Mobile, but for just $10/month.

Wow. A 50% reduction and the services are both still in limited commercial trial state, that is aggressive pricing.

It makes me wonder, how soon do calls in the home, over Wi-Fi/IP, become 'free' with a $40 or $50/month service plan?

Is the new mantra in the US telecom market: “unlimited nights, weekends and home”

If this is the future, there are some interesting implications in the telecom market. Certainly any company looking to fixed line service revenues will be under incredible pressure, think Vonage as well as cable companies.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Telia: UMA and IMS! not really...

When I first saw the headline “TeliaSonera Plans IMS Service in 2008” in Informa's IMS Vision newsletter, I was excited. Telia is a progressive operator and they are investing heavily in their UMA-based dual-mode service called HomeFree. I was certain they were going to combine IMS services onto UMA devices and have seamlessly mobility to Wi-Fi for IMS applications.

Alas, that is not the case. The article interviews Goran Eriksson, TeliaSonera’s head of technology for the broadband/fixed line side of the business.

'The main driver for TeliaSonera to ramp up IMS in the fixed side of the business is to upgrade and enhance its VoIP services and the first ‘IMS service’ that TeliaSonera subscribers will use will be VoIP, in 2008.’

So this is the state of IMS today...

Near the end of the article, it is mentioned that VCC is available from the vendor Telia has chosen for network infrastructure. Mr. Eriksson was coy about any plans. VCC for a fixed operator, what a surprise.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

unik: the webinar

Here is a unique opportunity to hear directly from Orange on their unik service. The webinar scheduled on May 31 at 9.00 GMT, 16.00 Hong Kong or an unbearable 1 AM in California (clearly geared towards Europe and Asia!).

Unik is the leading dual-mode handset (DMH) service on the market. Bruno Dachary, the marketing director for unik, will present on the success of unik to date as well as why Orange selected UMA for the service.

This is a great opportunity to hear about why subscribers select unik service and the benefits Orange has achieved in a relatively short timeframe.

Please register at: http://w.on24.com/r.htm?e=46430&s=1&k=5461EA3B40866BE15AD577748DFF5CA0&partnerref=BLOG

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

UMA vs... femtocells????

You may have seen the headline of a new report from Visiongain titled UMA vs Femtocells. Certainly this must have been some kind of mistake.

The headline should have been: Dual-Mode Handsets vs Femtocells, because that’s really what the report is about, looking to compare DMH-based services and femto-based services.

Yet confusion abounds, at least at Visiongain. Is UMA equivalent to dual mode handsets (DMH)? Certainly not.

As we all know, UMA is an access technology which can be applied to femtocells, just as it is applied to Dual-Mode Handsets.

Unfortunately, people continue to see UMA as only applicable to DMH. But watch out! UMA is quickly becoming the de-facto standard for femto backhaul.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Cincinnati Bell gets it right!

Wow, two operator stories in one day. Cincinnati Bell, regional fixed/mobile operator here in the US, has soft-launched their UMA service called “Home Run”.

First off: Kudos for the messaging and positioning. They got it right:

The focus on (1) unlimited flat rate calling and (2) improved coverage are dead on for UMA-based services. This is about making your mobile service work better and cost less.

Second, it appears that T-Mobile’s $20/month pricing for HotSpot@Home might be a bit aggressive as Home Run is “as low as $10/month”. Clearly the value of unlimited calls from the home/office is dropping.

Finally, for those who continue to think dual mode handsets are more expensive, the Nokia 6086 offered in the plan is $50 with service contract. That’s quite reasonable for an excellent, full featured UMA device.

T-Mobile gets closer

As reported in today's Wall Street Journal, T-Mobile is planning a nationwide (US) launch of their HotSpot@Home service, perhaps as early as June (but probably July...)

Be sure to register yourself for the service at TheOnlyPhoneYouNeed.com

Of course, T-Mobile did not comment on the article, but a clear picture of the service is certainly emerging. One interesting tidbit was T-Mobile considering a fixed-line VoIP service offer to complement its mobile offer. I believe this is the first time the concept has been discussed in relation to T-Mobile.

This is another application for which UMA can add value to the mobile operator.

Given yesterday's announcement that AT&T is planning to bundle its VoIP service CallVantage with mobile (Cingular) service nationwide, it begins to look like there are some new challenges for embattled Vonage:

Vonage threatened as AT&T bundles VoIP with cell in two test markets by ZDNet's Russell Shaw -- AT&T is starting to bundle its CallVantage VoIP service with its cellphone service. The imminent three-month trial will be offered in two markets: a total of 14 AT&T Wireless stores in Portland, Ore. (my home town) as well as in Central New Jersey. Legacy or new AT&T (nee Cingular) subscribers in those markets will be [...]