Kineto: The Joys of Getting There First

One of the most important companies in wireless that you've never heard of is building the key technologies that define the future of the entire industry.

While you may never have heard of Kineto Wireless, as they provide technology and solutions primarily to carriers, I've followed the company since shortly after their founding, and, if you don't know what they do, let's just say I find them a bit reminiscent of Holly Hunter's character in the film Broadcast News. I don't remember the exact line, but there's this great scene where Ms. Hunter's character, a TV new producer with a well-above-average IQ, is sarcastically told by a network executive that it must be nice to get the right answer well ahead of everyone else. No, she tells him, it's terrible. And, indeed there's often a significant burden associated with knowing what's going to happen well ahead of the rest of the industry - quick success isn't always possible, even when one clearly sees the future. Kineto is just so - but they do in fact get the right answer (yes, ahead of everyone else), and their contributions to a vital future for wireless are many.

Kineto, for example, got it right with fixed/mobile convergence just as the field was beginning to evolve. The company was an early proponent of UMA (unlicensed mobile access, sometimes called universal mobile access), which evolved into the 3GPP GAN (generic access network). GAN is basically the same as UMA, and both got lost during the IMS (IP multimedia subsystem) confusion of a few years ago. It was assumed by many that IMS would be the path to convergence and that UMA would see a short and unhappy life. The opposite is much closer to the truth - while IMS isn't dead by any means, its fundamental bulk and complexity work against it. Some years ago I likened IMS to the theory of relativity - everyone's heard of it, but there are perhaps ten people on the planet who really understand it. UMA is available today via services from T-Mobile and Orange, two of the largest cellular operators, and many others. And I remain (a) surprised that it wasn't more widely adopted, and (b) absolutely convinced that it will be as the fundamental interdependence of cellular (of any form) and Wi-Fi becomes clear. The term to watch for is cellular offload, which means everything from Wi-Fi to femtocells to - well, we'll see.

Today Kineto positions itself at the leading edge of two important trends, one of which is an extension to the business opportunity defined above, and which they describe as the "Smart Offload" of cellular, and the other is voice over LTE, which Kineto advocates in the form of the emerging VoLGA standard, in many ways an extension to GAN. Kineto's primary product here is a Multi-Service Access Gateway, which supports GAN, VoLGA, and even femtocells, and they also produce the required client software. Again, this product line will only really appeal to carriers, but think about this: we're dependent upon all those carriers out there to bring us next-generation services and get us to the very desirable goal of an all-IP network. Kineto is leading the drive here, and, as you might guess, it's slower going than any of us would like. But I think that carriers will eventually, en masse, see the light. And getting the right answer remains important even well ahead of the pack. Quick success, perhaps not - but success nonetheless.

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