Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hey GSMA: Got Voice?

Yesterday the GSMA announced a marketing program to promote and develop ‘always connected’ mobile broadband services in a wide range of consumer products.

While the momentum has been building for some time, the GSMA is looking to highlight the growing trend of HSPA devices (laptops, MIDs,…) which offer consumers a mobile broadband experience.

At UMA Today, our first thought was: Got Voice?

Giving consumers an ‘always connected’ mobile broadband experience is great… especially for VoIP providers like Skype and Vonage. These companies have traditionally been tethered to fixed broadband connections in the home or office.

Now mobile operators are providing them a high speed, low latency, always on mobile broadband network from which to deliver a mobile VoIP service.

While data services are certainly a booming growth area for mobile operators, this service amounts to a ‘dumb pipe’ approach. The fundamental revenue-generating application for the mobile operators, telephony, is conspicuously absent.

It’s clear why. Mobile operators don’t want to invest in a SIP/IMS core simply to provide their own VoIP service. The investment is too great, and the return is minimal.

What operators need is a way to leverage their existing voice service core (MSCs).

This is what UMA technology is all about: extending the mobile operator’s existing services over broadband.

There are several UMA-based softphone mobile clients available today. These products can easily be bundled with an HSPA service. Now when a user connects to the mobile broadband network, they can have the operators own a mobile VoIP application running on the laptop.

It could be that Orange is one of the first to recognize the opportunity.

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