Thursday, October 26, 2006

Who needs UMA ?

Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) allows mobile operators to offer their mobile services over Wireless LAN and other such technology. So basically what it means in short is operators can now offer cheap VOIP calls.Inspite of operators worldwide embracing this technology as one of tools to fight both pure VOIP providers (Vonage, Skype etc) and other Convergences challenges I would argue in this posting that this may not be the answer nor stop operators from being just a bit pipe providers like today’s ISPs.
T-Mobile in US and Orange in Europe are first few big operators to launch UMA services but many other operators are planning to do same in the future .So from end user perspective what it means is for example if you subscribe to this new T-Mobile Service by paying 19.99$ per month + your regular mobile plan cost+50$ for new handset that supports this technology+WLAN Router from T-Mobile +of course you need to have some sought of broadband connection at home after having these thing, what you get is that you can make unlimited phone calls within US when you are in home or near any T-Mobile wi-fi Hot spots .So you may be wondering what is new you get from this technology compared to using regular VOIP service like vonage or from cable operator what you get unique is that you can seamlessly move between home and outside and your mobile phone uses appropriate technology seamlessly .
Mobile operators after rapid growth in 90s are facing this problem that their basic voice business revenue is slowly down as voice traffic is moving to VOIP and at same time they are not able to generate any new killer data service which could yield better margins faced with this solution they teamed up with network infrastructure vendor to come up with this UMA technology which basically allows operators to utilize wide availability of broadband at home and provide VOIP services themselves at the same time keeping close control over who enters their network .For more details you can visit .
Though it looks like perfect solution for operators problem I would argue that this doesn’t serve end-user (i.e. consumer well) and hence their success will be limited at best .Basic reasons are
Cost: Cost of UMA service is still huge compared to other solutions like Cable VOIP providers or pure VOIP players like vonage .The reason is pretty obvious Mobile operators had to invest on new UMA equipments and subsidies UMA phone cost.
Smartphone’s: In future when there is wide spread availability of smart phones end-user can install skype or Google talk kind of VOIP clients as they do on PC and they have VOIP solution at no extract cost and more over this solution would work every where unlike UMA which works only in home and other restricted environment .Check if you have Nokia S60 Smartphone you can download free Google talk and skype client.
Unlimited data Plans: Soon operators will start launching widely fixed prices mobile data plans like what is available in broadband connection when this happens coupled with Smartphone availability makes UMA irrelevant. Already some operators like T-Mobile in US and Vodafone and orange in Europe have started offering this kind of plans but as it becomes popular it becomes even more cheaper for example in Finland you can get 1Mbps unlimited mobile data plan from Elisa for 30 euros.
So in short my argument is Mobile operators can invest and build these networks like UMA or IMS to offer services in controlled way but because the services they are offering can be delivered independently also without these kind of specialized network infrastructure at much cheaper price their services will not take off and finally they will be forced to just provide data connections (Data pipes) and let the consumers choose which service they would like to use in similar way to internet .I hope they release sooner than later and save money buy not building these kind of specialized networks .

Monday, October 09, 2006

Impact of technology on Financial services industry if any !

Internet and other technologies have significant impact on almost on every industry some of these industries business model have been significantly modified.Oh you may be wondering this are known issues and that why am I writing these in my posting, The reason is recently I stumbled upon one website which is offering a kind unique financial service though at first I was impressed by its services but soon it struck me that how much unique that service is in financial industry. My point is that financial industry which basically the kind of industry most suited to embrace internet and change their business model has not changed a bit especially in terms of business model .
Financial services industry which encompasses everything from personal banking to investment banking which forms the heart of capitalism is most suited to be most impacted from internet .Reason for this is at the heart or basic function of this industry is to act as middle player between the movement of capital (money) from where it is available to where it is needed. so in old days these middle player where much needed because of lack of communication and information about both players involved in the transaction, so theoretical internet which enables both communication and information flow across the globe should have drastically changed this industries landscape and reduced the other industries dependence on it .But what happened in reality is industry embraced internet and other technologies to improve internal productivity but protected their basic business model completely .
But slowly we are seeing some attempts to change that, of course they are very very minor attempts .I am trying to list some of them
Google attempts to use internet and auction based system to allocate its shares in IPO is one attempt to remove investment bankers service for that activity. Interesting service on net the one I mentioned in my first paragraph. its kind market place where individuals group together to finance another person .So essentially acting like some sort of bank but the whole process is transparent and more benefiting to individuals .Of course the risk mgmt and other things are still there but as this site attempt to mitigate that by using credit rating among peers I hope some of these methods will be successful. Think of similar kind of solution for raising capital through debt and other instruments be opened up and transparent to be participated by individual rather then the present structure of multiple layers then it may impact hugely the business case of many banks .
Zecco: A start-up that will allow consumers to trade stocks for zero commissions, versus $10 to $20 that many online brokers charge today.Intrestingly it has quite powerful backers like backers of Skye ,former Dutch Coco Cola CEO.It is intresting test case .This if successful to attract not only individual consumers but also fund mgr and other big traders then Brokerage firms revenue stream may be impacted -
Another very small example is that nowadays small web 2.0 companies are sold in auction in EBay .Think of situation were there is open trading place for companies themselves .The significant part of IB business would be effected .

Of course those entire example I put fwd are very minor but those ideas really catch up then we can see lot of changes. The most important thing why it has not happened is due to the fact that when it comes to money individual wouldn’t like to experiment and take risk but rely on time tested and trusted banks even though it may cost in terms of money .But my thinking is that over period of time as some people dare to try like in other people will join later as they see it working and also much more beneficial to them.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Opensource router takes on Cisco

As I had written in my earlier posting about voip and open source and its impact on telecommunication network equipment business I would like to present another example that proves my earlier posting .I was reading this article in redherring I would recommend its worth to read it.
In short a start up called Vyatta is providing open source based router sw bundled on standard server HW from dell. For those of you who have been working or associated with telecommunication business know how radical this change is compared to the present models and practices.Ofcourse this wont make Cisco out of business or infact effect thier bottomline immediately ,but it is one clear trend if continues and gains momentum like it happened in pure SW area, then we may expect drastic change in business environment .Initially atleast this startup is targeting at small enterprise were this product suits well.