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Optical/IP

FMC Player Lands $15.5M

Fixed/mobile convergence (FMC) specialist Kineto Wireless Inc. just raised $15.5 million and announced that Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) has come on board as a strategic investor. (See Kineto Raises $15.5M.)

The company's unlicensed mobile access (UMA) technology -- a.k.a. generic access network (GAN) -- powers dual-mode cellular/WiFi services like T-Mobile US Inc. 's [email protected] and Orange France 's Unik. It allows users to make VOIP calls over WiFi networks but appeals to operators because -- unlike some other fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) options -- it allows them to maintain control of the call by tunneling the data back over a WLAN or Bluetooth network to a gateway on the operator's network, which processes and forwards the call data to the mobile core. (See T-Mobile Launches UMA in USA, Orange Builds on FMC Base, Orange Doubles Mobile Broadband Base, and UMA Nears 3GPP Approval.)

It is also one of the underlying technologies used in the radio access network (RAN) gateway approach for femtocell architectures. (See 3GPP Picks Femtocell Standard, Kineto Supports HNB, and Vendors Unite on Femtocell Architecture.)

But there could soon be another application for Kineto's GAN technology, beyond FMC and femtocells. The technology could potentially be used as a mechanism to deliver voice services over so-called 4G standard Long-Term Evolution (LTE), according to Gabriel Brown, senior analyst at Heavy Reading.

As an entirely packet-based technology, LTE does not have a circuit-switched domain, and an IP multimedia subsystem (IMS) core will be needed to deliver voice services. But without an IMS core, operators will have to rely on their 3G networks to deliver voice services while the new LTE networks provide the data services.

Alternatively, there needs to be a technique for delivering what is referred to as circuit-switched over packet-switched services. According to Brown, there are a few proposals at the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) for this kind of technology, none of which are very complete, but GAN is more mature and could be adapted to fit this need.

"How to do voice over LTE will become more of an issue," says Brown. "But most operators are not looking at using LTE for voice in the first place. In general, LTE will start off for data services."

Kineto would not comment on whether it will promote the GAN approach to provide circuit-switched voice services over LTE. For now, the company is focused on FMC and femtocells.

In France, Orange launched last month the 3G version of its dual-mode Unik service with two handsets, Samsung Corp. 's P270 and Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications 's G705u. The French operator is also getting ready to introduce a new dual-mode 3G handset that will also be compatible with its mobile TV services, according to an industry source. (See Orange Launches 3G UMA and FT Preps Femtocell RFP.)

In the company's latest funding round, Kineto's existing investors also participated, including Oak Investment Partners , Sutter Hill Ventures , Venrock Associates , SeaPoint Ventures , and InterDigital Inc. (Nasdaq: IDCC) And Motorola joins NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701) as a strategic investor. (See NEC Invests in Kineto.)

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

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