Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Four Out of Five Agree: UMA for Femtocells

Before MWC, I wrote about the incredible amount of UMA-based femtocell news, calling it a ‘femto frenzy’ of activity.

Within the world of femtocells, there are a chosen few committed to the existing 3GPP UMA/GAN standard. All of the other systems/solutions are proprietary. The “UMA-enabled Femtocell” world consists of many key players:

- Solution provider NEC
- Solution provider Motorola
- Femtocell provider Ubiquisys
- Femtocell provider Motorola
- Femtocell provider Netgear

So, let’s count the number of announced operator femtocell trials and see where UMA is involved:

1. During MWC, pan-European mobile operator O2 announced they were conducting a femtocell trial with NEC.

2. Also during MWC, Scandinavian provider Telia announced a femtocell trial based with Motorola.

3. Then just this week, an article from Fierce Wireless editor Brian Dolan suggests that T-Mobile International will be trialing Ubiquisys femtocells with NEC.

4. Softbank in Japan has announced trials with nearly every supplier on the market, including Ubiquisys, NEC and Motorola.

5. The only other announced trial I’m aware of is Vodafone Group’s announcement to trial Alcatel/Lucent and Huawei, clearly not a UMA-based trial.

Unless I’m mistaken (which I’m sure you’ll to tell me if I am):

Four out of five femtocell trials include a UMA-based system.

This reminds me of the old Trident gum ad where “four out of five dentists agree…

I attribute this to a couple of reasons:

- It works. Novel but true. UMA has been commercially deployed for more than two years.

- Operators actually want a standard interface. As much as Alcatel/Lucent, Huawei, and even Nokia/Siemens are trying to push their own proprietary approaches, the operators have had enough. They want an open, public standard interface for femtocells.

- UMA does more than one thing. After deploying a femtocell service, a mobile operator may want to add a fixed line VoIP service (like T-Mobile US). The same UMA infrastructure supports that, or dual-mode phones, or softmobiles.

Next, let's see if we can get to 9 out of ten...

[UPDATE MARCH 20] Good posted on ThinkFemto about a similar topic. I have a bit more detail. For some reason, ThinkFemto decided to throw in a bunch of picocell wins that ip.Access got, but they aren't femtocells.

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