Thursday, June 28, 2007

I want my UMA!!!

But frankly, I couldn’t get it. They had sold out!

I went to my local T-Mobile store at noon on Wednesday. It was festive with balloons and all. You can see me with Jessica the helpful sales associate.

Jessica walked us to the HotSpot@Home display and showed us the phones and Wi-Fi routers.

We talked about the advantages and benefits. One thing T-Mobile certainly did right was to make this a feature which can be added to any other service plan.

There is no new ‘HotSpot@Home’ service plan. You can add @Home to any regular T-Mobile plan. Already have a "MyFaves" plan? Just add HotSpot@Home and get unlimited calling for $10/month. That's a great deal.

One other feature of @Home is improved coverage indoors. Buy a UMA-enabled HotSpot@Home phone to go with your existing calling plan and the Wi-Fi in your house improves coverage. You don't need the $10 package for this, just a dual-mode phone.

It’s such a great deal that our local store had already sold out their inventory of phones in just 2 hours!

Good luck trying to beat that, iPhone! (actually, it’s impossible. Apple probably made 5 million iPhones, and just selling that many in 2 hours is physically impossible...)

Anyhow, the word is out. I want my UMA! But apparently I’ll have to wait until a new shipment of phones comes in on Friday. That’s definitely a good sign.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

EDGE/GPRS support on HotSpot@Home

There have been a couple reports about T-Mobile’s HotSpot@Home service supporting data services through EDGE/GRPS only.

Those reports are WRONG!

What is being reported is that a “G” indicator on the display screen of the Nokia phone comes up when surfing/access packet services through UMA/Wi-Fi.

This actually means that the GRPS engine is being used, not that the GPRS/EGDE radio is being used. UMA is actually transporting the GRPS packet session over Wi-Fi.

This is actually the key advantage of UMA for packet services. If you start a data/packet session in UMA/Wi-Fi and then walk out the front door, that session will continue on the EDGE/GPRS network.

T-Mobile Launches!

And the stories are flooding in...

- T-Mobile’s press release

- Samsung’s t409 handset press release

- A great article from Business week

- Solid coverage from the Associated Press

- A good piece from Network World

And PhoneScoop video coverage, but why does the Nokia phone indicate EDGE for data services? Don't believe it, it's using Wi-Fi!

So, are you going to a T-Mobile store and getting your HotSpot@Home service today?

Monday, June 25, 2007

VCC is (still) for fixed line operators

NXTComm, the former “Supercomm” tradeshow geared towards fixed line operators in the US, wrapped up last week in Chicago. Frankly the VCC world has been pretty quiet of late, but there were three VCC related announcements at NXTComm:
  • Aepona is aiming its Voice Call Continuity (VCC) product for service provider OSS and BSS back-office systems integration, offering scalability, service interaction and intelligent rating and charging.
  • NewStep Networks and fg microtec, announced that their joint efforts to enable Nokia handsets to interoperate with multimedia applications for 2.5G, 3G and WLAN mobile phones, has led to field trials with major service providers. NewStep also announced that is had completed interoperability certification for Paragon’s latest GSM/VoWLAN dual-mode handset.
  • Aricent launched the company’s first VCC server solution, the Aricent Service Continuity Server (SCS).

I guess companies were saving up the news for a fixed-line tradeshow. This just serves to reinforce the message: VCC is a technology for fixed operators.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

T-Mobile countdown... June 27

Or at least that’s what they say on Engadget. It looks like T-Mobile is gearing up for some big promotions around the launch of the HotSpot@Home service.

It appears that TV commercials will begin running on the 27th featuring “Jimmy”, an average guy in a bathrobe, presumable highlighting how T-Mobile’s new service gives Jimmy a hotspot in his home.

Then there is the contest. On Tue Jul 3, the first 100 people to show up in bathrobes at 11 select stores around the country will get free @Home equipment at service for a full year. The stores are listed on the Engadget site.

That’s not all, go to the on-line store to pick up your @Home promotional items.

They are gearing up...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Blackberry's Pearl 2

From a post on PDAStreet, we get more rumoring about the new Blackberry Pearl 2:

· 3.2 megapixel camera
· Flash improvement and 6x digital zoom
· 3.5 mm Headset Jack
· External microSD slot
· SureType device
· New keypad technology
· 240×260 LCD display
· Wi-Fi capable
· 64MB of memory
· Streaming media support
· 4.5 hours of talk time/15 days of standby
· Stereo Bluetooth
· Windows Media DRM & MTP
· New metallic colors
· Top and rear loudspeaker port
· Voice Notes enhancements
· A new battery door latch
· Improved Front Receiver Porting
· Improved Lanyard design
· Improved Mic with wind protection
· Motion Lock
· Improved SIM card holder
· High speed USB
· Improved mechanical design, and build quality

That's a quite a list. Now all we have to do is wait and see what the next round of Pearl 2 rumors will bring us. With the mention of Wi-Fi on this BlackBerry, I'm thinking the Pearl 2 - like the original - could make its way to T-Mobile first; as part of the carrier's upcoming HotSpot @Home Web site, which is supposed to go nationwide sometime this summer.

Since T-Mobile HotSpot @Home is based on Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) technology, it can seamlessly switch calls between a Wi-Fi and cellular connection, depending on which is available and most cost effective at a particular moment. So a user can be on a cellular-call, using the minutes from their mobile plan, but when they walk into their home or in range of a T-Mobile hotspot, the call is automatically moved over to Wi-Fi without interruption, saving those minutes and possibly improving reception.

Sounds perfect for a Wi-Fi-enabled BlackBerry, doesn't it?

This does sound perfect, we couldn't agree more!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

MobileIGNITE... extinguished?

Launched with much hype and fanfare two years ago, the industry organization which stood for “Integrated Go-to-market Network IP Telephony Experience” seems to have failed to ignite.

It has been awfully quiet from the MobileIGNITE people.

Ironically, the last news item posted on their web site is the announcement of the release 1.0 of the FMC handover specification. This was the pre-cursor to the still pending VCC specification. Having read the document, I can see why things went down hill after that. Granted it was posted on September 27, 2006, but nothing more has been added to the site.

Also ironic is that Bridgeport Networks, a driving force behind MobileIGNITE seems to have abandoned the effort. There is buried a reference to the organization on their site, but it does not appear they are working to keep the flame alive.

As an operator driven initiative from the beginning, UMA continues to gather strength and evolve. Solving real business problems makes industry organizations much easier to sustain.

How big is it?

The market for femtocells, that is.

Last week saw the release of data from ABI Research touting nearly 150m femtocell subscribers worldwide in 2012.

Then on Monday IDC announced its own research, touting 5.7m subscribers in 2011. Granted those are only ‘western Europe’ numbers, but there is a HUGE gap between the numbers.

Suppose we assume that 1/3 of the ABI number is Western Europe. That is an order of magnitude (50m to 5.7m) difference in projections.


So, how big is the market for femtocells? It will take a while to see if the technology can live up to the hype. But for now, it looks like all systems are go. RFPs are coming at a rapid pace and vendors are fighting for position.

All of this is very good news for UMA, because it is the de-facto standard for integrating 5m or 150m femtocells into the mobile core network.

PS - the image is Godzilla vs King Kong, in a 'rematch where size really does matter'. Does Godzilla look 10 times larger than King Kong?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Will femtocells ‘kill off’ UMA-based FMC?

Total Telecoms, one of my favorite publications, is currently running a poll off their home page (it might conclude today, Friday):

The question posed is: Will femtocells ‘kill off’ UMA-based FMC?

Hummmm.... while 'yes', 'no' and 'both will survive' are neck and neck, it’s clear our work is NOT done!

First, I wonder to myself, why are we asked to consider just ‘UMA-based’ FMC? Has the market conceded that UMA is the leading approach for FMC? What about SIP-based FMC? Or VCC-based FMC? Or the ever-present IMS-based FMC?

Perhaps we here at UMA Today should be proud that UMA is considered the leading approach for FMC.

Second, and more importantly, it’s clear that the message of UMA as the de-facto standard for backhauling femtocells is just not getting through. Feedback from operators and vendors alike shows UMA provides the standardized, secure, cost-effective method for integrating hundreds of thousands of femtocells access points into a mobile core network. No other approach for femtocell backhaul comes close to meeting operator requirements.

Thus the irony is that femtocells are actually INCREASING the opportunity for UMA-based FMC. A vibrant market for femtocells will simply compound demand for UMA infrastructure.

UMA-based FMC was initially focused on dual-mode phones, then it expanded to include terminal adaptors and softmobiles. Now with femtocells, UMA has a near lock on the market for mobile operators leveraging the public internet for service delivery.

At the end of the day, UMA Today is proud that UMA is being held to a higher standard that other technologies or approaches, it means we’re making a difference.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Well, not actually 'dead'...

Interesting commentary from Philip Berne’s blog...the other day he posted a piece called “How to kill the iPhone”.

Now I don’t think anyone really wants the iPhone ‘dead’.

I’ve actually had several conversations with people who believe that live or die, the iPhone has already been successful in shaking up the status quo and gotten people to “think different” about phones.

But Philip’s post is interesting because it explores other ways to “think different” in the mobile community, ideas that could take some of the wind out of Apple’s sails.

While he throws out some great suggestions (Playstation phone, Vista phone, a ‘real’ N95), the one that is of the most interest here is the reference to T-Mobile’s HotSpot@Home service:

If you can't cut the price of the phone, cut the price of the service. UMA lets your cell phone hop from your carrier's network to your home or office's Wi-Fi, without cutting you off. Presumably, calls made on Wi-Fi will cost you less than those transmitted through your carrier's towers. T-Mobile has been sporadically vocal about this service, called T-Mobile @Home, and has been beta testing in the U.S., but has yet to announce an official rollout. Besides the iPhone's actual hardware cost, customers could be looking at mandatory, 2-year contracts with plans that will run $70 a month or more. A $100 cell phone plan for iPhone early adopters isn't inconceivable. Were T-Mobile to step in with a reasonably priced hardware setup and an even better monthly rate, perhaps lower than $30/month, including myFaves but not counting minutes used on Wi-Fi networks, they would be able to compete with the iPhone in a way no carrier has mentioned, at the mailbox instead of the storefront.

The service is coming. Be sure to register for it at their site:

I was chatting with a rep at my local store who confirmed the service is very close, new handsets from Nokia and Samsung are on the way, and that they are quite excited about it. Start lining up at your local T-Mobile stores today!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

FMC to 170M

Informa recently published a report stating that there will be 170m FMC subscribers by 2012 generating $33B in revenues. Things are definitely looking up.

Interestingly, the report went on to caution that without increased cooperation between all players in the value chain, the industry faces an uphill struggle. This comment must be related to the later comment about VCC potentially completing the standardization process in 2007. Once (if?) completed, VCC will undoubtedly be a interoperability and standardization nightmare.

For UMA, interoperability has already been established, with all the existing UMA devices (Nokia, Motorola, Samsung) being interoperable with all the UMA controllers (Alcatel, Ericsson, Nokia, Motorola). Additionally, now that testing companies are in the game (Aeroflex, Anritsu, Rohde & Schwarz, Setcom) new handset makers getting into the game (BenQ, Sagem, HP, RIM) have a lot of options for ensuring interoperability.

One final note, I’m not sure why this comment was made: have been suggested such as not provide the type of rich IP-oriented services envisaged by FMC.
Huh? UMA doesn’t provide services, it’s a transport protocol. That’s like saying “...UMTS doesn’t provide rich IP-oriented services”.

But UMA delivers all the “rich IP oriented services” an operator can deploy. UMA supports any and all packet services today. And UMA doesn't discriminate, rich or poor, UMA delivers seamless mobility for all packet services.

More UMA in Spain?

Well, at least more broadband for Orange Spain to run their UMA service on...

As reported in many places, France Telecom has acquired Spanish ISP from Deutsche Telecom for €320. Most importantly to the UMA world, Orange Spain is now the number 2 DSL provider in the country with 1.1m lines.

All the more reason to drive UMA services!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

200m DSL lines and growing

Point Topic has released new numbers on the DSL market and things look good. Over the past twelve months there has been a 29% increase in DSL lines worldwide.

DSL is still the preferred method of broadband, with nearly 65% market share.

With all that broadband, dual-mode handsets have a lot of places to connect.