FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Monday, February 21, 2005

Is UMA the Missing Link in Wireless Connectivity?

Mobile phone manufacturers are beginning to experiment with a new protocol called Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA), which allows smart phones and other devices to switch between WiFi and cellular networks. Most of the big players in the cellular space (Nokia, Motorola, Cingular, T-Mobile, etc.) are working to make UMA an industry standard.

If this happens, and if UMA works as advertised, it could have a revolutionary impact on mobile devices of all sorts. Enterprises, for instance, could create "voice over WiFi" networks that could lower costs while allowing smart devices to live up to their potential. It also could allow laptops to go online even when no wireless hotspots are available. The handoff between the WiFi and cellular networks, however, would have to be seamless.

Incidentally, the "unlicensed" in the UMA name refers to the portion of the wireless spectrum for which the FCC does not require a broadcast license.

Source: Russell Beattie Notebook, Phonescoop.com