UMA support may not be coming to Android, T-Mobile says

T-Mobile, which has been known to support UMA in some of its phones, which stands for Unlicensed Mobile Access, may be backing off, keeping the list of supported devices to a select few. UMA allows users to make calls and send text messages over Wi-Fi, which makes overseas travel much easier.  UMA has been supported on BlackBerry devices, but has not yet made it to Android.

And it may not be coming to Android, at least anytime soon. Om Malik of GigaOm asked a T-Mobile representative about UMA being available for Android. The rep replied by stating that T-Mobile will continue to support four models: three BlackBerry devices and the Nokia E7.

This may not be good news for Android users, who would love to have access to this technology. Of course with texts you can use Google Voice over Wi-Fi, but we're still waiting for the ability to make calls. [GigaOm]

  • I won't care about UMA if I can use VOIP over WiFi from overseas.
  • As the author of the articles points out and I agree, " The falling fortunes of UMA are the polar opposite of T-Mobile’s strategy four years ago when the fourth largest U.S. carrier was touting the Wi-Fi/Cellular hybrid service as the next big thing. A spokesperson said that now that lower-cost, flat-rate, all-you-can-eat voice plans were commonplace, it didn’t make much sense for the company to keep pushing its UMA service. I think the Seattle-based carrier is making a mistake. I think UMA is a good way to overcome networks that are less than stellar. With the growing presence of Wi-Fi in our modern lives, I think T-Mobile is missing an opportunity. It could use UMA on Android as a way to stand out against its competitors."
  • Agreed jjwred7, I believe this decision ultimately demonstrates T-Mobile's constant failure to capitalize against its competitors. One of the other major carriers will eventually realize how important UMA support can be and eventually T-Mobile will offer broader UMA support- after someone else does it. At some point, this company's going to have to take a serious look at why they're constantly the nation's 4th largest cellular service and not the #1 or #2. Their Chief Marketing Officer really needs to develop a new strategy.
  • It has more to do with coverage than marketing at this point. I see a lot of T-Mobile advertisements and very compelling pricing. A large number of people I know complain about AT&T / Verizon pricing and say they wish T-Mobile had better coverage so they could switch. This is in a very large city, but coverage gaps are everywhere. People are willing to pay more for AT&T / Verizon for coverage. Moving messaging and voice to wifi would be nice, but until wifi has huge coverage areas it isn't too useful since you're often in a non-covered area.
  • I agree, it's a coverage issue. All the major providers offer femtocell devices to improve their coverage areas in customer's homes or businesses. UMA was a great in home solution in that regard as well. Right now T-Mobile is the only provider that doesn't have an effective solution for customers that experience poor reception in their homes or offices. Hearing that they are not planning to expand their UMA services is disappointing. Unfortunately, I am one of those customers that has decent T-Mobile service most places accept my home. at&t, Sprint and Verizon don't seem to be a problem for me.
  • Whilst this is not an official statement from TMob Christopher, I think this may have been the final straw for me. TMob customer service is wonderful and were kind enough to send me a BB9700 to use when I moved (UMA worked perfectly vs NO signal on my Android phone), I just want to get back to Android and think I am going to have to head to Verison even though it will be much more expensive. I suppose the upside is I will have a better selection of Android phones too. A shame...I have been happy with TMob up to this point and in most areas my signal is better than ever, but everywhere I go the Verison people seem to have a MUCH BETTER signal than I have...including my new home.
  • It's only a matter of time before Google adds Gizmo5 to Google Voice mobile. I wonder what their waiting for.
  • I don't know why they are waiting, I suspect patents might have something to do with it. But you are correct, as soon as they add that to GV the world changes again. Skype is squandering its lead for a few million of short term money from Verizon, Fring and Numbuzz can't really compete well because of tiny infrastructure. But if Google enters this area, nothing T-Mo has will be of interest.
    Google is the only one with the infrastructure to handle this.
  • That is the only thing about Blackberry that I miss...UMA! My home is right on the edge of service, I can get a signal but it's tricky at times, so UMA was awesome. Bring it to Android or put a 3G tower in my area Tmo!