Friday, January 23, 2009

It's a "Wireless Network Extender"

Rumors abound about Verizon Wireless’ launch of a Wireless Network Extender, more commonly known as a femtocell. Engadget reports that Verizon could begin selling the unit as early as next week.

The deeper question is: will consumers pay for coverage? $250 for the unit seems a bit steep.

Or will Verizon resort to providing the unit for free as a customer retention tactic like Sprint? We’ll have to wait and see.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Westell gets (UMA) religion

Earlier this week, Westell announced their first UMA product, the “UltraVoice” UMA terminal adaptor. Westell joins Linksys in providing UMA-based terminal adaptors designed to let mobile operators cost-effectively capture fixed-line home phone service.

T-Mobile’s home phone service “@Home”, has been a resounding success. UMA has let T-Mobile offer home phone service for just $10/month to it’s existing subscriber base. Rather than installing a dedicated VoIP switch, UMA let’s T-Mobile use their existing R4 MSCs as well as billing and customer care facilities.

Considering the business case, I’m surprised more mobile operators aren’t jumping on this:

  • UMA Network Controller Port: ~$15
  • UMA-enabled terminal adaptor: ~$50
  • Changes to billing system: Minor, this is just a second line on an existing mobile plan

  • Revenue per month: $10 (excludes any international calling)
  • ROI: About 6 months

I think it was T-Mobile’s enthusiasm for the application that helped Westell get UMA religion.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

UMA Device Takes Top Ranking (sort of)

RCR Wireless regularly publishes a list of the most “popular” handsets in the US.

Top handset for the month of November…

The Blackberry Curve

Wow, a UMA-enabled device is the most popular device in the US. Well, only the T-Mobile version of the Curve is UMA-enabled, but still, I’m sure T-Mobile sells a LOT of them.

Actually, congratulations to RIM for holding 3 of the top five spots in the ranking.

Two new UMA phones

This week saw the introduction of two new UMA enabled devices.

Today Nokia released the new 7510 device at CES. A quad-band phone with a solid 2 mp camera and SMTP/POP3 mail, this is more than an ‘entry level’ device. Targeted for T-Mobile US, it looks like it could become popular worldwide.

This week Orange started selling “Chicago” a private label device rumored to be developed by Taiwan OEM powerhouse Foxconn. The device is fairly basic, filling in the entry level segment of Orange’s Unik service offer.

Not a bad week for UMA handsets.