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Competition Drives Unlicensed Mobile Access

The worldwide fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) market -- including UMA network controllers, multi-access convergence gateways, and dual mode cellular/Wi-Fi phones -- is forecast by Infonetics Research to soar to $46.3 billion in 2010.

The report entitled "FMC Equipment, Phones, and Subscribers Market Outlook," says that of all the current seamless and non-seamless variations of FMC implementations, Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) has seen the most significant push, triggered by intense competition.

The fiercest battles are coming from attackers in Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and the UK, where each incumbent service provider is trying to protect its home turf. UMA is also the quickest fix prior to any migration to IMS, the report indicates.

"UMA, which was believed to have short legs just a year ago, is the predominant technology deployed today to implement seamless FMC between wireless LAN and 2G cellular networks. For those who still believe UMA will be short lived, it can now support 3G, is backed by the 3GPP, has a clear migration roadmap to IMS, and is becoming the default case for femtocells," said Stephane Teral, principal analyst at Infonetics Research.

Other highlights from the Infonetics market study include:

- Large European incumbents such as BT, France Telecom, and TeliaSonera have been leading the charge to offer UMA-based seamless dual mode Wi-Fi/cellular services.

- Nokia is the worldwide dual mode cellular/Wi-Fi phone market share leader by far, followed by Sony Ericsson and Motorola.

- Today all UMA Network Controllers (UNCs) are sold with dual mode handsets in mind, but soon likely will be sold for femtocell-only applications.

- The number of worldwide seamless FMC subscribers is expected to skyrocket from 188,000 in 2006 to 38.2 million in 2010.

- Voice Call Continuity (VCC) application servers are not going anywhere; the VCC standard has been delayed, and as a result, VCC is now fully tied to IMS.

- Multi-Access Convergence Gateways (MACGs) have the potential to become the largest FMC equipment market worldwide because they collapse several network elements into one platform and address the need for network consolidation, providing intelligent interaction with subscribers, services, and transport mechanisms.

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