Denmark joins a growing number of countries where households andsmall businesses can buy converged Wi-Fi-cellular services.
From Friday, the Danish subsidiary of Sweden’s TeliaSonera ABwill offer a service that allows users to make Wi-Fi calls at homeand cell calls on the move, said TeliaSonera Denmark spokesman RuneFick Hansen.
For 189 Danish kroner (C$35) per month, a household of up tofive people can make unlimited calls to family members and allfixed networks in the country.
Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.’s SCH-P200 will be the onlydual-phone available at launch but Telia Denmark is in talks withMotorola Inc. and Nokia Corp. to add more handsets, according toHansen.
The Danish service, Home Free, is similar to the T-One servicelaunched earlier this month by Germany’s Deutsche Telekom AG andthe Fusion service rolled out last year by Britain’s BT GroupPLC.
Though usage is similar among all three services — customersuse one phone that operates on two different networks — eachoffering has some technical differences, for good or bad.
Unlike T-One, which requires users to subscribe to DeutscheTelekom’s digital subscriber line (DSL) service, Home Free allowscustomer to freely select their broadband service provider, whethercable, fixed-line or wireless local area network (LAN).
“Cable is really big in Denmark, and we have many new companiesproviding Wi-Fi services in apartment buildings and other publicareas,” said Hansen. “No one is forced to purchase a broadbandconnection from a sole provider.”
Like T-One, which requires customers to buy their cell phoneservice from Deutsche Telekom’s mobile subsidiary, Home Free givesusers only one cell phone option: TeliaSonera.
Another distinction: T-One and Home Free use differenttechnologies to move calls between Wi-Fi and cellular networks.
The German offering is based on session initiation protocol(SIP), while the Danish service uses unlicensed mobile access (UMA)technology.
UMA enables a “seamless” hand-over of voice and data connectionsbetween global system for mobile communications (GSM) and Wi-Fi orother local wireless networks. Additional information about UMA isavailable at: http://www.umatechnology.org.
BT’s Fusion service, which initially launched using Bluetoothbut has since added Wi-Fi to extend its range, also uses UMA tohand over calls between cellular and local wireless networks.
TeliaSonera Denmark and BT aren’t alone in their use of UMA. TheU.S. mobile arm of Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile USA Inc., iscurrently conducting a UMA-based pilot in Seattle, Washington.Telecom Italia SpA and Orange SA also have UMA plans of theirown.
Numerous manufacturers are eager to break into the nascentmarket for converged Wi-Fi-cellular phones. Earlier this year,Nokia announced its first UMA-based phone, the 6136. The world’slargest mobile phone maker is currently conducting an UMA pilotwith local infrastructure providers in Finland.
Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV now offers a complete UMAsemiconductor reference design that handset manufacturers canlicense to build their own converged phones.