Monday, March 23, 2009

UMA Today Q&A: RIM on its strategic vision for Wi-Fi and UMA

RIM has maintained a long-term commitment to UMA technology and today, and supports UMA and WiFi in a wide range of industry-leading products for both consumers and business users. Even when Wi-Fi was considered by some to be a threat to the mobile operator, RIM saw an opportunity to focus on offerings that benefit both end users and wireless carriers. Below is an excerpt of a recent interview in UMA Today Magazine with Mike McAndrews, RIM’s VP of product marketing, who shares his insights on how Wi-Fi and UMA fit into the company’s strategic vision for the future…

UMA Today: Have operators’ opinions towards Wi-Fi changed?

McAndrews: I’ve seen a definite trend in the last few years towards Wi-Fi adoption by many wireless carriers around the world. This trend is fueled by 3 things:
1) Wi-Fi popularity with end users
2) Increasing smartphone functionality, which leads to greater wireless data usage
3) Many carriers now see Wi-Fi as an enabler to their overall strategy. As a result, Wi-Fi is being increasingly requested by wireless carriers in new BlackBerry smartphones…

Some of our carriers have created compelling voice service plans built around UMA. Other carriers have focused on bundling convenient hotspot access as part of a BlackBerry service plan.

UMA Today: How does UMA technology fit into RIM’s strategy?

McAndrews: UMA is a natural extension of what we’ve been doing with Wi-Fi. While Wi-Fi support makes it possible for customers to access their BlackBerry data, the addition of UMA support gives customers access to voice calling over Wi-Fi as well.

UMA is a technology that benefits both mobile operators and end users alike, and we’re glad to support it. To date, we’ve seen enthusiastic support for UMA from some of our carrier partners, including Rogers Wireless, T-Mobile US and Orange.

UMA Today: What is RIM’s outlook for Wi-Fi and UMA in handsets in the future?

McAndrews: Wi-Fi is an important part of our product roadmap – its proven to be a technology that benefits both our carrier partners and end users. Wi-Fi is popular with both business users and consumers. While Wi-Fi cannot replace the wide area coverage provided by a mobile network, it is becoming more commonplace….

RIM’s Wi-Fi architecture is designed to allow the handset to connect to the best network available – either the mobile network or Wi-Fi – with no user intervention required…This seamless connectivity is an important element of making Wi-Fi truly easy to use.

RIM remains committed to UMA, and there are certainly more products on the horizon.

To read UMA Today’s full interview with RIM’s McAndrews, click here.

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