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Cellular and Wi-Fi

If there were a lot of combination cellular / WiFi products at CTIA, they sure were keeping a low profile. The handset manufacturers were focusing their cute little toys more on video, music and games and touting new models for 3G standards such as HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Data) that have yet to start U.S. rollout.

Some of the activity in this area is focused around UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access). UMA is a recent standard developed by Philps, Motorola, Ericsson and others to enable subscribers to roam and handover between GSM / GPRS cellular and unlicensed wireless networks using dual-mode mobile handsets.

Kineto Wireless didn't have any announcements at CTIA, having done most of them last month for the 3GSM show. But it was demonstrating its INC back-end controller and EMS software for UMA networks and UCP-100 UMA reference design phone (made by Chi Mei). Other UMA-enabled phones include BenQ's P50 Pocket PC phone, and HP's H6315 that is currently available from T-Mobile.

UMA isn't the only cellular / Wi-Fi game in town, however. Kyocera and Boingo Wireless announced that they would be producing a combination CDMA / Wi-Fi handset, but provided no important details such as when, where or how much.

This story will be interesting to watch to see how successful the cellular industry is in keeping the forces of voice revenue erosion at bay. Change isn't entirely within their control, however, since consumer networking companies are attacking using a combination of VoIP and wireless handsets, which bypass cellular networks entirely.

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