F/MC Watch: VoIP Fallout from CTIA

By Ted Stevenson

April 13, 2006

At last week's Las Vegas conclave, pieces of the cellular/IP network convergence puzzle were coming together faster than ever.

BridgePort, Openwave announce IP (intellectual property) pact
Chicago-based BridgePort Networks, which was party to multiple initiatives unveiled at last month's 3GSM congress in Barcelona, continued that trend in Las Vegas, announcing an intellectual property partnership with Openwave Systems of Redwood City, Calif.

BridgePort's contribution to the fixed/mobile convergence phenomenon centers on technology that switches data streams between cellular networks, and IP (at this point, primarily Wi-Fi) networks, depending on a user's location, in effect extending the cellular footprint into the IP networking space.

At Barcelona, the company was involved in demonstrations of that handoff technology in action—including the unveiling of functional dual-mode handsets—as it relates to phone calls. But these days, telecommunications encompasses more than voice. IMS (IP multimedia subsystem) technology, the latest telecom buzz-acronym, is all about enabling a whole range of communications techniques across disparate network types.

So, it is natural that BridgePort would seek ties with an application vendor like Openwave. According to Openwave senior vice president Richard Wong, the company is "focused on efforts to enable operators to deliver converged voice and multimedia messaging services that capitalize on the benefits of IMS."

From BridgePort's perspective, the alliance marries its IMS Convergence Server technology to other (non-voice) types of messaging that users will expect to access on their mobile devices. From Openwave's perspective, BridgePort's technology makes a path for its Adaptive Messaging applications to interoperate across networks.

Both companies are members of the industry group MobileIGNITE, which originated as a BridgePort partner program, but which has since split off as an independent organization promoting an open-standards approach to fixed/mobile convergence.

Kyocera demos dual-mode CDMA/Wi-Fi handset with Boingo
Kyocera Wireless, a manufacturer of CDMA mobile phones and devices, teamed up with Wi-Fi hotspot aggregator Boingo Wireless to show off a working prototype of its new BREW-based dual-mode phone.

For the CTIA demo, Kyocera integrated Boingo's Wi-Fi software application, designed for handsets and other mobile devices, that enables global roaming and automatic user authentication across Boingo's public Wi-Fi hotspot networks. The software includes complete network connection and profile management capabilities, allowing users to configure connection profiles for private networks (such as home or office), as well.

Indeed, roaming from mobile networks to IP networks at home and in the workplace has become the key rationale for fixed/mobile convergence, providing a low-cost, high-performance way of extending the mobile network to places it's not likely to function well anyway. Integrating Boingo's extensive web of Wi-Fi hotspots (more than 30,000 strong) constitutes a significant expansion of the universe of VoIP connection possibilities.

"Giving carriers a flexible solution that lets them capitalize on the performance and economic advantages of Wi-Fi while still retaining the full complement of mobile voice and data services has been high on our priority list," said Kyocera Wireless VP of marketing, Tom Maguire. "Boingo provides a powerful, lightweight software solution that meets our stringent requirements."

The demonstrations took place both at Kyocera's expo booth and BridgePort's booth.

Boingo partners with Kineto to extend UMA service to hotspots.
CTIA, Las Vegas was also the setting for a second VoIP-related announcement from Boingo. The hotspot aggregator has forged an agreement with Kineto Wireless, originator of the UMA (unlicensed mobile access) mobile/Wi-Fi handoff technology to ensure interoperability between UMA and Boingo's Wi-Fi toolkit for mobile handsets.

UMA is currently the only handoff technology that meets the specifications drawn up by the 3GPP standards body.

As a UMA-enabled handset identifies an access point, the mobile device will query the Boingo client to determine if it is supported within the Boingo Roaming System. If it is, the handset will automatically connect to the access point and initiate UMA service delivery.

"Mobile operators can now quickly and easily extend the reach of UMA services beyond the home and office to include the global coverage of Boingo's 30.000-plus access points," said Boingo senior vice president Colby Goff—a sentiment echoed by Kineto vice president of marketing Ken Kolderup: "Combining core UMA technologies from Kineto with global Wi-Fi access from Boingo creates a win-win for both companies' customers," he said.



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