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BT & T-Mobile: No Convergence

Dan Jones
LR Mobile News Analysis
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor
9/28/2006

T-Mobile US Inc. has denied reports that it will enter into a partnership with BT Global Services to offer fixed/mobile services in the U.S.

Reports out of the U.K. this week claimed BT and T-Mobile USA would partner to launch a converged service in the U.S. enterprise market.

"Information about T-Mobile and BT has been inaccurately reported," a spokesperson for T-Mobile tells Unstrung. "The only agreement we have with BT is a roaming agreement for hotspot users."

This doesn't mean that the U.S. operator isn't moving ahead with its own FMC plans. T-Mobile USA is expected to launch its long-anticipated FMC service very soon. (See T-Mobile: UMA 'Round the Corner?.) "Any day or week now," says analyst Roger Entner at Ovum Ltd. .

T-Mobile would be able to utilize its widespread network of WiFi hotspots in any such deal. The operator now has 7,836 locations in the U.S. Unlike many of its cellular rivals, the operator largely owns its WiFi network, rather than relying on third-party networks.

It appears that T-Mobile will be the first major operator in the U.S. to offer a cellular- and WiFi-based FMC service. The company is using unlicensed mobile access (UMA) technology, which is favored by some carriers because it allows them to maintain control of calls on the WiFi network. (See UMA Steps Up.) Some enterprise users are still leery about buying into the technology. (See Who Will Buy Dual-Mode?.

Cingular had been working with UMA technology for its initial FMC trials. (See Cingular's Got Big FMC Plans.) The operator is working to develop convergence services based around an IP multimedia core (IMS). This likely means that the operator will start to roll out services later than T-Mobile, since it is still working on implementing IMS technology. Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) is also working on an IMS-based system.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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