Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Kineto Turns UMA into "Smart Wi-Fi Offload"

Today Kineto, a leader in the UMA space, announced a new "Smart Wi-Fi Offload" solution. For all intents and purposes, it looks like they have renamed UMA into "Smart Wi-Fi Offload".

Not that it's a bad thing...

In the four years since UMA was introduced, there have been some major shifts in the market. Early UMA deployments were on focused on fixed-mobile substitution (FMS), and relied on feature phones (remember the Samsung G709?).

At the time, FMS (and FMC) were hot topics, but the mobile industry had never heard of an iPhone and mobile operators all believed that had more network capacity than they could ever want or need.

Skip ahead to 2010, landlines are a dying breed, subscribers are getting larger buckets of minutes and FMS is a natural occurrence. But the industry has been blind-sided by the meteoric rise of the smartphones, specifically web-driven devices like the iPhone and my Touch.

I was in a meeting with an industry analyst the other day who casually mentioned that he believes mobile operators will need to increase their current network capacity 10x in the next 3-5 years.

Consider that number for a minute. It’s staggering.

Now consider this: what are the options for an operator to increase their network capacity by a factor of 10?
  • Add more segments and channels onto existing cells? A good, but finite, idea.
  • Install more macro cells? Certainly that continues to be important, but even doubling the current number of towers probably wouldn’t increase network capacity 10x.
  • Femtocells? Certainly this is an important technology, but there continue to be a range of growing pains.
  • Wi-Fi is a great option. It’s already installed in the homes and offices of these ‘smartphone’ users, it doesn’t interfere with the macro network, and now with Kineto’s solution, it can be added as an application to the range of offending smartphones.

The reality is that to achieve a 10x increase in capacity, mobile operators are going to need to do all these things in earnest, starting today.

I think Smart Wi-Fi Offload is a good first step.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

T-Mobile USA Customers Not So Interested in Home Phone Service

It's a trend that continues to grow -- consumers are dropping their home phone or landline service. T-Mobile USA will be dropping active support for its @Home landline replacement service, according to a recent article by the Associated Press.

T-Mobile had launched this home phone service in July 2008 and had offered it for $10per month. The good news is that this does not impact the company's UMA-based @Home Wi-Fi calling service.

"The needs of our customers are constantly changing, and T-Mobile must foresee and adapt to these changes," T-Mobile said in a statement. "As such, T-Mobile plans to soon discontinue selling the T-Mobile@Home service; however, we will continue to support the service for customers who are @Home subscribers. No changes are anticipated in pricing of the service, nor will this decision impact the Wi-Fi calling (Unlimited HotSpot Calling) service."

The need for UMA to provide offload and improving coverage perseveres!