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TeliaSonera Steps Up UMA Trial

Light Reading
LR Mobile News Analysis
Light Reading
11/24/2005

Having completed the first phase of its unlicensed mobile access (UMA) pilot using Bluetooth, TeliaSonera AB (Nasdaq: TLSN) is cranking it up a notch to test how the technology works using wireless LAN. (See TeliaSonera Pilots UMA.)

The Scandinavian carrier is conducting user trials in Denmark with 50 families to gauge consumer interest in a possible new UMA-based service, and says the feedback from the initial phase has been "generally positive."

UMA technology, part of the cellular specifications from standards body 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), allows calls to switch between wide-area networks using GSM technology and local area networks, where a connection is made from the customer's mobile phone to a landline using a short-range wireless technology such as Bluetooth or wireless LAN. This allows people to use one handset for their mobile and domestic fixed line calls, and only be charged at fixed line rates when they're within range of their home wireless connection.

(NYSE: BT; London: BTA) has already launched a UMA service, BT Fusion, using Motorola's GSM/Bluetooth handset. (See BT Unveils FMC Service.)

For the second phase of TeliaSonera's trial, participants will use a Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) handset that switches between a GSM network and wireless LAN within the home, to gauge how well the technology works and how easy it is for people to use. (See Moto Boasts UMA Success.)

The carrier announced earlier this month it's also doing technical trials in Sweden using (Nasdaq: ERICY) gear. (See TeliaSonera Trials UMA.)

TeliaSonera spokeswoman Charlotte Süger says the operator can't say at this stage how long this second phase will last, but it's keen on exploring opportunities for a commercial service. "We plan to take the lead in the migration to mobile and Internet-based services so of course we're interested" in what UMA can do, she says.

Süger adds that TeliaSonera is exploring UMA's potential primarily for the residential market, but "might be interested" in examining its potential for enterprise users too. The first phase of the Danish pilot started in May, at which time Motorola announced it was involved in trials with six other operators. (See TeliaSonera Trials UMA and Moto Trials UMA.)

In today's release, Motorola says the number of operators trialing its kit has now grown to 10, reflecting growing interest in offering converged fixed and mobile services. (See ‘Switchers’ Drive Convergence.)

According to an analyst note from Ovum Ltd., "The [TeliaSonera] trial, which has hitherto been based on UMA using Bluetooth as the bearer, also marks the transformation of UMA from a de facto specification to a technology standardised by 3GPP."

Principal analyst Jeremy Green and Carrie Pawsey, senior analyst, write: "The advent of UMA as a full standard has important implications. It means that operators can now have more confidence that UMA-based solutions will work across vendors' offerings - so that there will be interoperability between one vendor's devices and another's access points."

— Nicole Willing, Reporter, Light Reading

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