Nokia 6136, Motorola A910 and other UMA phones. What OEM’s aren’t telling anyone

So far the biggest hurdle for innovation on licensed wireless networks was wireless carriers. They are gatekeepers guarding and nurturing their walled gardens. If you want to offer just about any service through mobile phone you have to go through them. You have to get their permission. And you have to pay them. That’s why you don’t have iTunes on your mobile phone yet. These orifices won’t allow it. They want their cut from each song you buy.

But with the advent of UMA phones, the gates are opening and the walls are coming down. When you connect to Wi-Fi network, the carrier can not control what you do. You are free. You can now connect to iTunes, search the web, talk to friends, download movies and moblog free from carrier interference.

Innovative entrepreneurs, providing these services don’t have to think of how to get to you. They only have to care about providing these services in the format that is right for the small form factor of mobile phone screen. I can bet they’ll think of something. And then they can just post it out there and, if service is any good, people will come.

In the early nineties online world also had their own gatekeepers. These were called online services – America on Line, Compuserve, Prodigy, MSN. They were happy to charge you for the service and then take their cut from anyone who wanted access to you. They could select and approve or reject any outside service. Usually for a fee.
Then came the internet and the walls came down. Some of these services were able to adapt, others perished.

With the coming proliferation of UMA enabled cell phones coupled with wide adoption of free or semi-free Wi-Fi networks, similar thing can happen in mobile world. Ubiquitous connectivity without any gatekeepers, on a widely available device should usher the wave of innovation in wireless industry, similar to what happened to the Internet in past decade. Just look at what’s happening in Wi-Fi field now, multiply it by 1000 and you may start getting the picture of the things to come.

Some carriers will adapt, others will be acquired. And we all will be much better off from it.

Author: Stasys Bielinis

While I like to play with the latest gadgets, I am even more interested in broad technology trends. With mobile now taking over the world - following the latest technology news, looking for insights, sharing and discussing them with passionate audience - it's hard to imagine a better place for me to be. You can find me on Twitter as @UVStaska'

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  • Mark

    Sure free VoIP is nice and I use it a lot to talk to friends all over the world. But to use them as a real telephone replacement? Sorry, too cumbersome. What if I’m not at my computer when a phone call comes in? What if my PC is turned off? What if I left my headphone jack in PC and all the calls are muted? What if my Internet line is down?

    You make it sound like VoIP is ONLY a computer based solution. Sunrocket, Vonage, etc. are not computer based VoIP solutions, and you completely disregard this fact. My VoIP will forward to my cell phone in the event of a power failure, internet congestion, etc. Additionally, your perfect model of the phone world consolidates all phone communication into a single handset, and therefore a single phone number. Sorry, but I don’t want EVERYONE in the world having the number to my mobile. Let them talk to my answering machine if they want to sell me something.

  • stace

    I am not sure that we disagree here on something. My point was that VoIP at least seems too unreliable, PC based or not. Especially here in Europe, where there isn’t as many VoIP options.

    UMA takes nothing away from current VoIP providers. It only gives them and us additional options.

    With UMA I can have the cheapest plan from my wireless provider for backup and call forwarding and use VoIP for all other needs.

    Yes my model conslidates everything into a single handset. But why is it a bad thing?

    I can have Vonage, Sunrocket, Skype and Gtalk on my mobile phone at the same time. And I don’t have to give people my mobile phone number. I can give some of them my Vonage number, others can have my Gtalk or Skype ID and talk to the answering machine. All the calls can be forwarded to me when I choose so.

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