Recently, Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM) and BT, two of the three tier one operators in Europe who’ve adopted Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) have decided to ditch the fixed/mobile convergence service. I wonder what that spells for the future uptake of 3G femtocells!?
While femtos are based on an entirely different technology, their value proposition seems to go in same direction: Replacement of the fixed line telephony service and better indoor coverage. Looks like users are not ready for it yet. So what’s your opinion, why should femtos be more successful than UMA?
4 thoughts on “Will Femtos Be More Successful than UMA?”
I would say that it is because UMA needed cooperation of handset manufacturers, while femtos only need the cooperation of the customer.
For example, you want to use UMA? You need to go and use one of only a couple of phones. People don’t buy phones like that.
Whereas with femtos, you buy the device and plug it in. If this is part of a FMC play, the carrier may even throw it in as part of their DSL modem.
Either way, the customer doesn’t have to give up something to get the service, they add something.
That’s why it’s a better play.
Interestingly enough, UMA is a platform for convergence that enables femtocells and dual-mode handset services. You may have seen several femtocell announcements based on emerging news at MWC in February, including two UMA-based femtocell trial announcements from O2 and Telia.
What’s important to note is that UMA is a 3GPP global standard. As a universal platform for convergence, UMA automatically offers FMC investment protection, giving operators the freedom to deploy dual-mode handset services or femtocells.
In addition to the availability of more UMA-enabled dual-mode handsets on the market, the UMA standard will also accelerate the time-to-market for femtocells because it has a three year head start over alternative femtocell standard proposals.
If there’s any comparison to be made, perhaps it should be Wi-Fi vs. Femtocells; however, UMA enables both.
In principle Femtocells are a great idea and I agree they score over UMA through handset availability. However, I can’t see individuals buying/tying into them when there are so many ‘free’ minutes already bundled in most tariffs. Cheaper data at home maybe – but most people have WiFi at home for that and bigger screens available. Success may come if they can be deployed in semi-public places offices etc, or if people are allowed to make money through micro payment sub-charging to passers-by or neighbours. Perhaps that’s asking too much. Operators might just give the boxes away to high volume users to reduce certain cell loads? It’s all about pricing, so they will have to be cheap.
I would say that femtocells are in the best position to save UMA. Dualmode devices are finicky, very few and voice is very cheap for UMA to even be considered.
On the other hand, UMA/GAN can be used as an interconnection protocol to enable femtocells (and it has several advantages over the proprietary Iu standards that vendors are now pushing for 3GPP approval)
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