The GSM Association announced today they have reached agreement with the Universal Wireless Communications Consortium ("UWCC") to include TDMA interoperability with GSM as a core component of the GSM Global Roaming Forum ("Roaming Forum"). The Roaming Forum is the central body representing the interests of mobile operators and suppliers working towards interoperability between GSM and other technologies.
"The Roaming Forum very much evolved out of the good work of the GSM Association's North America group and the North American GSM Alliance LLC and their cooperative work with the UWCC," said Rob Conway, CEO of the GSM Association. "Our customers expect to be able to enjoy services from their home network, wherever they may be in the world," he said further, "and the role of the Roaming Forum with the much appreciated help of UWCC members is to make that wish a reality."
GSM & TDMA interoperability, via the GSM/ANSI-136 Interoperability Team (GAIT), has been under development since 1999, via the combined efforts of the North American GSM operators and the UWCC. Today's agreement between the GSM Association and the UWCC brings the GAIT program under the umbrella of the Roaming Forum.
Sheila Mickool, President & CEO of the UWCC, stated, "Moving the GAIT project work into the Roaming Forum is the logical step for development of the proper interoperability standardization for seamless communication." She added, "The UWCC and the GSM Association's goal is to offer more coverage to the customer by taking advantage of the strengths of each other's current network deployments."
Launched in June 2000 by the GSM Association, the GSM Global Roaming Forum is comprised of companies with roaming products and services from GSM, iDEN, CDMA, TETRA, and now TDMA technologies. The mission of the Roaming Forum is to develop technical requirements for terminals, networking, and smart cards and commercial standards for services, billing, financial settlements, and fraud management.
Roaming Forum participants will champion the interoperability between GSM and these non-GSM technologies. The output from the Roaming Forum will be shared with technical standards development organisations and trade organisations whose member companies foster intra-standard roaming today. While the initial focus for the Roaming Forum is Second Generation technologies, future work will involve the interoperability of Third Generation technologies, chiefly 3GSM (Wideband CDMA/UMTS), EDGE and CDMA2000.
Juan Carlos Jil, International Business Director for Entel PCS (Chile), and Chairman of the Roaming Forum, said, "The Roaming Forum is building the blueprints to facilitate interstandard roaming and allowing customers to roam the world seamlessly across any wireless system with the GSM global network at its core and we are very pleased to welcome members of the TDMA community to this precedent-setting initiative." Jil added, "Seamless global roaming has been a major factor behind the ten-year plus success of the GSM industry, and we are looking to extending that success throughout pockets of the world not covered by GSM."
The combined global TDMA & GSM subscriber base on five continents was approximately 465 million by the end of the year 2000. This combined subscriber base represents over 70% of the estimated 655 million global wireless subscribers. By joining forces in the development of interoperability standards for global roaming, carriers will be able to offer seamless international service to their customers.
The GSM Global Roaming Forum is meeting January 9-12, 2001 in Hong Kong. The three-day closed meeting features reports and proposals from the, now four, Technology Teams, with additional input on issues to streamline the establishment, testing, and management of roaming relationships between operators of GSM and non-GSM technologies.