Kineto Goes Corporate

Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) pioneer Kineto Wireless Inc. says that it can now move the fixed/mobile convergence (FMC) technology into the enterprise space though a partnership with WiFi firm Extricom Ltd. (See Kineto, Extricom Team.) Availability of compatible UMA handsets could be an issue for early adopters, however.

Milpitas, Calif.-based Kineto says the firms discovered that Extricom's technology could support UMA calls when testing FMC handsets over the Israeli firm's access points. Kineto claims this is an industry first -- seamless handover and maintaining active UMA voice calls and data sessions between WiFi access points on an enterprise wireless LAN.

Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) is a fixed/mobile convergence technology that allows a user -- equipped with a dual-mode cellular/WLAN handset -- to make calls across any generic wireless LAN and cellular network with the call and signaling data shuttled around in secure IP tunnels. These tunnels terminate on an access gateway, which processes and passes call data to the circuit- or packet-switched mobile core carrier network. UMA is popular with carriers because they keep control of the call.

Previously, UMA has been seen as a consumer technology that will allow calls to move between the cellular network and a single WiFi access point, be that a hotspot or an AP in the user's home. With Extricom's system, UMA can be supported over multiple APs.

"This is the first step in bringing UMA into the enterprise," Steve Shaw, director of marketing at Kineto, tells Unstrung.

UMA calls work over the Extricom technology but not over standard WiFi networks -- yet -- because of the way the firm's system works. The Extricom controller and access points operate as if multiple radios were one big AP. (See Extricom’s 'Perfect' WLAN.)

"The phone doesn't notice the difference," says Shaw. "It just sees everything as one radio."

Shaw says that carriers have been asking for a way to bring UMA support to corporate customers. "This is a way of kickstarting the market for enterprise UMA," Shaw claims.

A question about handset availability still lingers over the nascent UMA market, however. Carriers like BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), Orange (NYSE: FTE), and T-Mobile US Inc. have launched initial UMA services and a handful of compatible handsets are available. Kineto couldn't say for sure how many UMA-compliant handsets are available. 2007, however, is likely to be the first major year for commercial UMA handsets.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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