Optical/IP Networks

UMA Group Wraps Up

The Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) trade group is to wind down activities following its recent inclusion in the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) cellular specifications.

Work on UMA technology has largely been spearheaded by California startup Kineto Wireless Inc. The basic idea 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.

UMA technology moved into the mainstream with the formation of the UMA trade group, which released specifications to the public in September 2004 (see Convergence Specs Emerge). As well as Kineto, vendor backers include Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERICY), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), and Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE). A number of Tier 1 services providers such as BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), Cingular Wireless LLC, TeliaSonera AB (Nasdaq: TLSN), and T-Mobile USA have also pledged their support (see Moto Trials UMA and TeliaSonera Trials UMA).

In February this year UMA technology was incorporated in the 3GPP Release 6 standards, paving the way for the group’s closure (see 3GPP Includes UMA Spec).

“It has always been the intent of the UMA participating companies to conclude operating as an independent group once all activities defined in the cooperation agreement had been completed,” writes Ken Kolderup, VP of marketing at Kineto, in an email note to Unstrung.

“Encouraging the UMA specifications to be adopted and carried forward by a formal standards organization was certainly a key objective for the UMA effort. We are delighted to see that objective now met with the recent incorporation of UMA into 3GPP Release 6, making it a true standard for cellular/WiFi convergence. Having achieved this major milestone, we expect the UMA companies will be able to wrap up their remaining defined activities over the next several months and devote future energies to 3GPP-sponsored evolution of UMA.”

UMA is just one vendor group attempting to target the mobile core convergence space (see Mobile's Core Competence, The Convergence Contenders, and The Third Way of Convergence). Other alliances include the MobileIgnite Alliance and the SCCAN Forum (see Convergence Game Ignites and Trio Plots Roaming Accord).

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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