Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mind the gap

As mobile data usage explodes, mobile operators are noticing a growing gap between bytes delivered and revenue generated.

With voice traffic, each additional minute of traffic typically generates an equal amount of revenues.

Today, data revenues have jumped from per byte to flat rate and usage is exploding, generating a traffic/revenue gap.

With estimates indicating as much as 50% of mobile traffic is generated in the home, a home zone service offer, based on low-power in-home radios like femtocells or Wi-Fi, are helping mobile operators ‘mind the gap.’ With a home zone service offer, operators are able to offload bandwidth intensive media-rich applications onto the user’s own fixed- broadband network. The result is a win-win situation for operators and users. Operators collect the flat rate fee, even for traffic not carried on their network, whereas users receive high quality broadband access on their mobile phones.

Nokia Drops VoIP Support from new N Series?

As reported at GigaOm this weekend, apparently Nokia has dropped support for its VoIP applications on some new N series products going forward.

What appears to have happened is that some, but not all, of Nokia’s embedded SIP/VoIP stack has been removed. Some view this as an opportunity for more third party VoIP developers to jump in and innovate. Others view this as Nokia capitulating to the demands of mobile operators who see third-party VoIP apps cannibalizing high-margin international voice traffic.

Regardless, it re-opens the discussion about Nokia supporting a UMA client in the N and potentially E series devices. Nokia is the largest supplier of Wi-Fi-enabled devices today, and the lack of support for UMA in their N series products continues to be puzzling.

Capabilities such as ‘internet offload’, a dynamic routing capability in the handset which sends (for example) GSM voice traffic through the UMA tunnel but routes third party SIP/VoIP traffic directly to the internet, make it even easier for Nokia to support UMA and SIP/VoIP concurrently.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Smartphones: The new 'hot spot' for Wi-Fi?

According to a recent report from industry researcher Canalys, a whooping 58% of smartphones now ship with Wi-Fi. This underscores something we at UMAToday have believed for some time, that in this category of device, Wi-Fi is more than a feature, it’s a requirement.

As flat rate data plans proliferate, mobile operators are viewing Wi-Fi as a complementary technology. With Wi-Fi penetration in European ‘internet connected’ households at nearly 50%, mobile operators are looking to use low cost, high performance Wi-Fi to offload media-rich data traffic.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Psst... Want a free femtocell?

In my continuing fascination with the Sprint femtocell service Airave, I’ve been following articles and blogs about the service. From the comments on-line, it’s clear the product is a hit. By making it a ‘2G’ product, Sprint has assured compatibility with all the handsets in the field. While there are minor issues, for people with little or no coverage (a far to common occurrence in the US), this is the wireless equivalent of ‘pennies from heaven’.

The one complain seems to be the pricing. Not much of a surprise there. A one time fee of $99.00 and then $4.95 a month to get five bars of coverage in your home seems a bit steep for something one expects from their mobile provider.

But if you don’t want to pay for it, perhaps there’s another way:

In this article from the San Francisco Chronicle, Sprint representatives said that on a case-by-case basis, some customers in problem areas with bad reception might be eligible for a free or discounted Airave or waived monthly fees.

Several of the bloggers who are ‘raving about Airave’ indicate they received the unit at no charge after complaining to Sprint customer service.

I have blogged about this as a face-off between two ‘home zone’ service offers, the other being T-Mobile’s “Unlimited Mobile Calling” (aka HotSpot@Home). I viewed Sprint’s push as a competitive response to T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi-based offer.

But perhaps Sprint has a more pressing need for the femtocell. An analysis of Q2 08 operating performance for the ‘big four’ mobile operators in the US showed negative trends for Sprint in nearly every category. Especially troubling is the 4% decline in the total subscriber base.

One way to stop subscribers from leaving, especially those with coverage issues, is to give them a femtocell.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Rumor Mill: Blackberry Javelin

Engadget today offered a look at the new Blackberry Javelin, suggesting it is a replacement for the Curve. It also looks like RIM is trying to beat out Samsung for the most UMA-enabled handsets. The future looks bright.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Blackberry 'Kickstart' Coming to Rogers

Several rumor sources today regarding a new clam-shell RIM Blackberry called the 'Kickstart'. According to Boy Genius, the Kickstart will appear at Rogers with support for their UMA service. RIM continues to be bullish on UMA.