3GSM: Fixed/Mobile Convergence

After years of hype and little reality, expect UMA to finally get more traction. Carriers like British Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, TeliaSonera and France Telecom have launched FMC services based on WiFi/cellular phones and either Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) or SIP technology. According to Chris Ambrosio, director of device research with Strategy Analytics, handset selection is what has stymied user adoption for at least BT’s Fusion service. But, Kineto next week will announce that UMA technology is now available on 10 different models of handsets. And Boingo is poised to debut what it calls the first worldwide WiFi roaming network for dual-mode and WiFi enabled handsets. The new Boingo Mobile service will provide these phones with access to high-speed hotspots in airports, hotels and restaurants worldwide.

But FMC isn’t out of the woods yet. Says Ambrosio: “Operators aren’t feeling any great need to commit to UMA or dual-mode service at this point. They are closely watching the threat that UMA presents vs. VoIP over just a 3G phone or WiFi phone. And it’s not a broad threat yet. Most of the operators who have launched are treating UMA like a fringe service.”

IMS is another once-hyped technology that is now making inroads much later than expected. 2005 was the hype year, and 2006 consisted of the quiet deployments.  Ericsson CMO Johan Bergendahl said that IMS has been deployed at more than 100 carriers. That figure will likely grow after next week’s announcements. Since 2005, IMS has been more about network development. At this show, expect to see the actual applications it enables. The Telefonica, Accenture and Capgemini booths will demonstrate IMS-based applications. -Lynnette