FAQ – UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access) tech explained

Almost abandoned technology might rear its head again

orange's signal boost is uma based

Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) – and not Universal or Unlimited Mobile Access, is an old standard for fixed-mobile convergence (FMC). In other words, a way of combining the worlds of cellular mobility and fixed broadband. UMA technology provides a device with access to mobile voice and data over broadband and unlicensed spectrum. By unlicensed we mean Wi-Fi and, originally, Bluetooth as well. Using a UMA device, subscribers can roam and handover between cellular networks and public or private unlicensed wireless networks. In 2013, most mobile phone users will spot UMA in operation with BlackBerry mobile phones.

The specifications for UMA were formally approved by the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Program) back in February 2005.

The UMA specifications were created by Alcatel, AT&T Wireless, Cingular (now AT&T), Ericsson, Motorola, Nokia, Nortel, O2, Rogers Wireless, Siemens, Sony-Ericsson (now Sony) and T-Mobile USA.

The key participants, it has subsequently emerged, were actually BT (British Telecom), BlackBerry (Research in Motion) and Kineto Wireless,

Perhaps the most famous example of somebody trying to put UMA to good use was BT with its Fusion offering.

Fusion provided a single handset which acts like a cordless handset at home but was a regular cellular/mobile phone outside.

There are currently [December 2013] rumours that BT might be revisiting UMA again for some kind of consumer offering.

Currently, however, the MNO [Mobile Network Operator] championing the use of OMA is France Telecom/Orange.

It harnesses UM technology with a number of BlackBerry, Nokia and Android based handsets for a service it has named – ‘Signal Boost’.

Initially the specifications for UMA were available for download from this site – www.umatechnology.org. However, that URL now just points to an error message in Russian.

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