August 25, 2005
Fixed/mobile convergence (FMC) startup Kineto Wireless Inc. has confirmed speculation surrounding a network partnership with Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) for the development of Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) technology (see Nokia, Kineto Team on UMA).
Incorporated in the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) cellular specifications, the basic idea of UMA is that mobile network operators can extend the coverage and capacity of their networks by using unlicensed local-area access networks, such as wireless LAN and Bluetooth (see UMA Group Wraps Up).
The user, equipped with a dualmode cellular/WLAN handset, can make calls across any generic wireless LAN and IP network, with the call and signaling data encapsulated in secure IP channels. These tunnels terminate on an access gateway, which processes and passes call data to the circuit-switched or packet-switched mobile core network (see Convergence Specs Emerge and The Third Way of Convergence).
Work on UMA technology has to date largely been spearheaded by Kineto, and today’s announcement with Nokia is the startup’s second publicly acknowledged high-profile network partnership with an incumbent vendor, following a previously touted tieup with Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT). (See Moto Boosts Kineto.)
“We understand that Kineto’s gateway product has been picked up by Motorola, Alcatel, and Nokia, who will re-badge or resell it to their mobile operator customers,” wrote Gabriel Brown in an Unstrung Insider report earlier this year.
“We have been working with Nokia for some time now,” says Tim Donovan, senior director of corporate communications at Kineto. “Very large companies are interested in the value of UMA. Nokia is just one of them.”
In June, Nokia announced its first UMA deal at Finnish service provider Saunalahti Group Oyj, a deployment that involves kit from Kineto (see Nokia Converges on Saunalahti). A joint statement from both vendors today adds that “the companies are currently engaged in UMA trials with major operators and will continue to collaborate on future network trials.”
Kineto is naturally eager to wax lyrical about carrier interest in UMA technology. According to company literature, “eleven major mobile operators worldwide have completed or are planning to conduct UMA technology trials with 145 million subscribers.” The note adds that “ten global operators are in active evaluation today, with 188 million subscribers.” Service providers that participated in the development of UMA technology include AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T), BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), Cingular Wireless LLC, O2 plc (NYSE/London: OOM), Rogers Wireless Communications Inc. (NYSE: RCN; Toronto: RCM), and T-Mobile USA.
In June this year, BT claimed to have launched the world’s first combined fixed and mobile phone service based on UMA technology, while Motorola named TeliaSonera AB (Nasdaq: TLSN) as a trial customer back in May (see BT Unveils FMC Service and TeliaSonera Trials UMA).
Aside from network infrastructure deals, Kineto has also announced two UMA cellphone software wins with LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) and Samsung Corp. (see Kineto Phones It In). The startup has raised around $60 million in funding (see Kineto Grabs $35M).
— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung
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