UMA disbands

The Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) trade group is shutting down its operations after merging into the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) cellular specifications. The impetus behind the creation of UMA was the idea that mobile network operators could extend both the coverage and capacity of their networks if they used unlicensed local-area access networks, such as WLAN and Bluetooth. Customers with dual-mode cellular/WLAN handsets would make calls on WLAN and IP networks with calls and signaling data protected en route in secure IP tunnels. The protective tunnels would end at the access gateway which would pass call data to the circuit-switched or packet-switched mobile core network.

Among the backers of the UMA group were Kineto, Alcatel,  Ericsson, Motorola, Nokia, Nortel Networks, and Siemens. It was also supported by providers such as BT, Cingular Wireless, TeliaSonera, and T-Mobile USA. The group group released its specifications in September 2004, but five months later, in February this year, it was incorporated in the 3GPP Release 6 standards, making it unnecessary to continue as an independent entity.

Ken Kolderup, VP of marketing at Kineto, told Unstrung that, "Encouraging the UMA specifications to be adopted and carried forward by a formal standards organization was certainly a key objective for the UMA effort. We are delighted to see that objective now met with the recent incorporation of UMA into 3GPP Release 6, making it a true standard for cellular/WiFi convergence. Having achieved this major milestone, we expect the UMA companies will be able to wrap up their remaining defined activities over the next several months and devote future energies to 3GPP-sponsored evolution of UMA."

It would be interesting to see whether other groups involved in shaping mobile convergence, such as MobileIgnite Alliance and the SCCAN Forum, would follow UMA.

For more on UMA's decision:
- see Justin Springham's Unstrung report
For more on actors in the mobile convergecne space:
- see the websites of the SCCAN Forum | Bridgeport

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