Thursday, June 15, 2006

3G home gateways - sounds cool to me

There's an interesting idea floating about for putting a "UMTS base-station module into a home gateway connected via ADSL" to provide dedicated 3G access at home. To the consumer, this would appear very much like UMA (e.g. BT's Bluephone), but with some key advantages.

Like UMA, calls made at home would be routed over the broadband connection and would be cheap or free. However with the 3G gateway, there's no need for a dual mode handset (expensive with poor battery life). And, of course, because the consumer is using their standard mobile, this is the device with all of the numbers programmed into it, so there's a huge convenience boost.

Also, quality and breadth of services would improve. Mobile operators could offer lots of different and innovative bundled services.

There're some problems to sort out of course, but they don't seem insurmountable. The most obvious question is whether there is a demand for improved 3G access at home, but apparently so. Indeed research shows that a high proportion of mobile voice calls are made at home - figures of 30% to 40% are often quoted. At the same time, mobile users are generating more and more mobile data traffic while at home.

I know that I use my mobile at home because I can't remember anyone's number any more and I've got a boatload of inclusive minutes that I never seem to use up. Sorry BT.

1 comment:

Martin said...

There might just be a race between companies betting on the 3G at home approach as you describe above and the mobile phone manufacturers putting Wifi into their mobile phones. Nokia has come quite far already with Wifi in the N80. Another 6 to 12 months and they should have a reasonable VoIP client on the phone as well that can be used over the Wifi connection. 3G at home on the other hand could be quite simple to use as there would be no extra configuration of the phone which most users will probably not want to do anyway. So it's good that there is competition because I am afraid that if there's only one faction that is trying to do this there would be no real incentive to make calls cheap at home or to develop a functional VoIP client.