PARIS Philips Semiconductors has scored a significant win in the emerging Wi-Fi and cellular converged phones business. It also said Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) phones based on its Nexperia cellular system solution will soon become available in the U.S. market.
While Philips declined to name the U.S. operator and handset vendors supplying the UMA phones, the Dutch semiconductor company claimed an early lead Wednesday (Feb. 8) in the emerging UMA market “as an independent system solution provider.” As evidence, it cited its close partnership with Kineto Wireless and Alcatel.
Kineto makes UMA network controllers for the network, as well as UMA client software for handsets. Alcatel supplies network infrastructure equipment.
Under the partnership, Philips Semiconductors has made sure that its mobile handsetto which Kineto’s client software was portedcan work with the UMA-enabled network infrastructure, said GertJan Kaat, senior vice president and general manager of its Mobile & Personal Business Unit.
The three companies spent the last year “making the software running in the infrastructure stable,” Kaat told EE Times . As it completed the validation its UMA implementation, “we can start ramping up UMA phones next month,” he added.
UMA technology was developed to provide access to GSM and GPRS mobile services using unlicensed spectrum technologies, including Bluetooth and 802.11. UMA-based products enable subscribers with dual-mode UMA handsets to roam between cellular networks and unlicensed wireless networks. A UMA network controller acts as a virtual basestation, providing handoff between cellular and Wi-Fi networks.
Industry analysts have asked whether wireless carriers would be willing to subsidize dual-mode UMA handsets, and questioned how billing will be handled. Philips’ Kaat, however, stressed: "You can’t stop it [UMA] from happening. Consumers are driven by lower-cost phone bills."
With Kineto’s UMA client software already ported to Philips Nexperia’s cellular system solution 6120an ARM-9-based GSM/GPRS/Edge multimedia platformall handset vendors need to add is Philips' BGW211, a low-power 802.11g WLAN system-in-package, according to Kaat.
The BGW211, priced under $10, uses advanced process technologies and packaging techniques to integrate the baseband/MAC, radio, power amplifier and antenna, he added. Further, the solution delivers all the hardware, software validation, support and interoperability testing.
The UMA-enabled Nexperia cellular system 6120 is already available to cellular phone makers worldwide. UMA technology will be implemented into the Nexperia chip for 3G by the end of the year.
Philips will demonstrate at next week's 3GSM World Congress a live but voice-only connection on a GSM handset, switched via WLAN to a UMA network controller.
John Walko in London contributed to this article.