Orange ignores femtocells and launches 3G/Wi-Fi UMA service

Not wanting to wait for femtocells to become commercially viable has provoked Orange to announce its 3G/Wi-Fi UMA strategy. The company, which already has more than one million users of its 2G UMA service, claims its 3G UMA solution is a 'world first', initially using handsets from Samsung and Sony Ericsson.

Gareth Abel, the company's marketing operations director for Orange group handsets, said the decision to go with Wi-Fi was made some time ago specifically to accelerate Orange's convergence strategy. "However, we've been working very closely with Samsung, Sony Ericsson and the cell phone chipset vendors to make 3G work within UMA. The critical challenge was to make the handover of voice calls from 3G to Wi-Fi, and vice versa, a seamless switch. This was the main technical issue and we had a dedicated team to ensure this would work, but it was a complex challenge."

The 3G UMA service has been designed to work with the Orange Livebox access point with the objective of attracting users of the new handset to download music, TV content and videos. "It will be targeted at a younger audience, a segment that wants to consume a wide choice of multimedia," said Abel.

The company admitted it would continue to monitor the development of femtocell technology, but, more specifically, focus on its potential readiness for widescale deployment. "For the moment, there won't be an immediate switchover to femtocells, as there's been a lot of effort within Orange achieving the 3G UMA product that we're announcing," confirmed Abel.

Story source: FierceWireless Europe 

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