|First UMA Phone Announced
Who will be the first out with a phone to support Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA)?
Kineto�the company that developed the technology�has licensed it's UMA
software to several companies, but the first out with official announcement
appears to be LG Electronics (LGE).
The Fixed-Mobile Convergence (FMC) phone announced is the CL4000. Most
handsets today that support Wi-Fi are usually big smartphones�the kind that
include PDA and other features, at a high price. According to Kineto
marketing director Steve Shaw, the CL4000 will have a "much more mid-tier
clamshell design. Not all out road warrior communications product." The
price should be lower than traditional smartphones, as well.
That said, the phone won't scrimp on extras. It will include a megapixel
digital camera and an MP3 player.
And of course, it's also a phone, supporting GSM/GPRS and tri-band
(850/1800/1900) for use in North America and parts of Europe. With the UMA
client software on board, the best part is, calls and data access will roam
seamlessly from Wi-Fi to cellular and back again without dropping a signal.
LGE licensed the UMA technology from Kineto in July, as did Samsung. Shaw
says Samsung will probably "have something shortly." He says Motorola has
also made mentions of a UMA phone but had not announced anything official.
Chances are good that all of these phone makers could have UMA-based
products out in the same time frame�in trials this year, with retail
availability in the first half of 2006.
Kineto is also working with Nokia. Not on a UMA phone (yet), but on the
network side, where UMA support is necessary from carriers. Who those
carriers will be, and thus who offers the new LG or other UMA-based phones
is still unknown.
UMA was folded into the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) cellular
specifications last May. Shaw says it was a "huge boost for UMA... it went
from being a bunch of vendors that put together a specification to a
globally ratified specification for how Wi-Fi and cellular converge." What
Kineto offers for license is still there own brew of UMA, but upgradeable to
final specifications when established. In the future, he says to expect
direct support for 3G services like CDMA/EV-DO. "The changes would be minor
for UMA; [we expect] implementation nits, not any significant structural
(Courtesy of wi-fiplanet.com)