Fixed-mobile convergence on the mobile operators' terms took a step forward with a new version of Unlicenced Mobile Access (UMA) software, and backing from Cisco.
Release two of Kineto's UMA network controller lets operators deliver converged services quicker because it integrates with existing third party networking software. Cisco has tested its security and network gateway modules with the software. It also allows one controller to cover UMA services on multiple network switches, lowering the cost of UMA.
"This is where the rubber meets the road, and everything looks good for widespread deployment," said Ken Kolderop, vice president of marketing at Kineto. Although UMA allows mobile phones to use Wi-Fi or other local connections to route calls back onto the cellular network, it has so far only been implemented in BT's Fusion, a lacklustre service almost invisible to the naked eye since its launch last summer.
UMA has been criticised for converging the fixed and mobile worlds under the control and billing of the mobile operator, in contrast to rival approaches based on SIP which use the Internet for routing. Despite this, the new version will be easy for those mobile operators to deploy, said Kolderup.
"The new features in UNC are for rapid deployment," said Kolderup. Instead of needing its own database, UNC now verifies a user's credentials against the operator's own database, and uses the existing security features of the mobile network. "We've leveraged a standard approach for UMA service management."
Mobile and fixed operators will both use UMA to benefit from the substitution of fixed traffic by mobiles, and to counter the threat of Skype, said Kolderup. "Mobile operators want to grow revene by taking traffic from fixed lines, and fixed line operators want to make sure that traffic goes onto their own mobile services," he said. "The fixed operator may move away from UMA over a number of years, but mobile operators will stick with UMA."
Support from Cisco will be important, said Kolderup allowing Kineto's products to work with existing networks: "Cisco is a big player in security and media gateways, and we have similar distribution methods."