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Moto Boosts Kineto

Incumbent network vendor Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) has been talking up its work in the Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) market, a move that will boost convergence startup Kineto Wireless Inc.

Motorola today announced trials with seven European carriers deploying kit based on the UMA initiative (see Moto Trials UMA). TeliaSonera AB's (Nasdaq: TLSN) subsidiary in Denmark is the only named carrier, testing products in the capital city of Copenhagen and eyeing a “possible launch in 2006.” (See TeliaSonera Trials 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.

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 tunnels. 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).

Although today’s announcement is clearly designed to boost Motorola’s standing in this space, the trials are also a serious stimulus for Kineto. The startup has been stressing the benefits of alternative access networks to mobile operators for several years and is the foremost supporter of UMA (see Kineto: No QOS Required?).

Moreover, Kineto has struck a partnership with the network giant. “They are a software partner providing part of the Motorola solution,” Tom Mockridge, business development manager for Motorola Networks EMEA, tells Unstrung.

Motorola is not the only incumbent vendor believed to be leaning on 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,” writes Gabriel Brown in the latest Unstrung Insider report (see The Convergence Contenders and Mobile's Core Competence).

“Each of these vendors publicly supports UMA technology and… has expressed confidence that UMA will result in sales of equipment to be used in support of commercial services.”

Kineto was unavailable for comment at press time. In June 2004 the California company closed a $35 million Series C funding round -- the largest investment in wireless networking equipment of the year -- bringing total investment to $60 million (see Kineto Grabs $35M).

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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