UMA: Moving On Up

By Eric Griffith

May 26, 2005

The Unlicensed Mobile Access technology meant to be a standard for seamless hand-off between WLAN and cellular networks isn't dead, but will be integrated into another specification.

Some might call it the end, but not Kineto Wireless. The company that launched and supported the Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) effort to make a standard for hand-off between cellular and WLAN networks (such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth) says UMA is moving to "the next level," to be folded into the work of the 3rd Generation Partnership Program (3GPP) standards body.

They say the goal all along -- or at least since the company announced in February that it would be working with 3GPP to include UMA in its Release 6 spec -- was to bring UMA into that fold. There, it will be known as GAN (Generic Access Network) or Technical Specification 43.318 within the GERAN (GSM/EDGE Radio Access Network) TSG (Technical Specifications Group).

The UMA technical committee and trade group that Kineto formed with vendors like Motorola, Philips, and Alcatel will be winding down its operations, but Kineto's director of marketing, Steve Shaw, says, "Kineto has really been the only company that's out promoting UMA as a specification."

Shaw says that marketing will continue, but that technically, UMA will cease to be separate from the work at 3GPP. "From the technical perspective, it's impossible to maintain two separate specifications and keep them aligned and consistent," he says.

UMA as a name is probably going away, but Shaw says that "UMA is a long way from dead," and that "Kineto will never stop the promotion of UMA, and we will continue to push other companies to adopt the technology."

Philips Electronics recently announced it was making a UMA-capable reference design for phones, working with Alcatel. Airespace -- recently purchased by Cisco -- had certified its products for UMA interoperability in February. And around the same time, Kineto said it was porting its UMA client software to the Symbian OS, which runs a large number of the world's smartphone handsets.

Wi-Fi/VoWiFi Planet Conference Interested in hearing more about UMA, 3GPP and other standards that are striving to link Wi-Fi and cellular networks?

Join us at the next Wi-Fi/VoWiFi Planet Conference & Expo, June 14-16, 2005 at the Baltimore Convention Center. Kineto's Steve Shaw and others will be on hand to discuss this topic and answer your questions.


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