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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Cisco and UMA

Much will undoubtedly be made of Cisco's apparent embracing of UMA/3GPP GAN technology, announced today in a release from Kineto Wireless.

Undoubtedly, people will jump to conclusions about Cisco strategy around enterprise-grade FMC, whether or not its IP-PBX and WLAN products will support UMA, what this means for its consumer Linksys brand, its announced SIP-based partnership with Nokia and so on.

My read on it is that it's a relatively straightforward announcement about network security. A number of other network security infrastructure vendors such as ReefPoint, Stoke and apparently Lucent have already recognised that UMA deployments have significant impacts in terms of scaling up authentications, VPN tunnel termination and so forth in the mobile operator's network.

"Cisco's UMA security products are designed to provide defense in depth from both malicious and non-malicious threats by combining high-density IPSec termination with a voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) peering point security architecture, load balancing, routing and switching all converged in the Cisco 7600 series router platform"

Given the likelihood of some US operators introducing UMA services (Cingular & T-Mobile seem almost certain candidates), it is unsurprising that one of the world's largest network security vendors - and one which is making a big push into carriers - almost has to have a solution.

Whether or not Cisco actually has invested a huge amount in this, or expects to sell many UMA Gateways, is of course another matter. My understanding is that entry to the UMA club (either for operators or vendors) is not desperately expensive. But that still doesn't alter my conclusion that UMA's just not going to work commercially, or in terms of overall user experience.

1 comment:

yaromir said...

As I already commented on Mobile Analyst Watch blog, I agree that UMA has little chance to thrive in the U.S. First of all, UMA will be deployed by carriers as a defensive move to make customers to keep their landlines, offering few benefits (well, unified bill and maybe some discounts), while more and more consumers just want to cut the cord and pay only for mobile phone. UMA is a solution controlled by carriers, so you can't expect "free" VoWiFi calls. Carriers will keep the voice traffic (analog or digital) on their network and charge for that accordingly. Though, I think T-Mobile has a shot to benefit from UMA, because it doesn't have landline business in the U.S. T-Mobile can significantly improve the in-door coverage for its customers by offering UMA-compatible dual mode cellular/WiFi handsets, probably, allowing free or very cheap calls while at home or in the range of a hotspot. Another reason for UMA's weak uptake is its incompatibility with CDMA carriers like Verizon and Sprint