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Open Market Handset For CDMA Mobile Services
 
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Open Market Handset For CDMA Mobile Services

The OMH initiative promises to enhance the CDMA ecosystem; it gives you flexibility in device selection as well as changing operators in CDMA which was not easy earlier.

Open Market Handset (OMH) offers you greater choice and pliancy to stay tuned into the CDMA ecosystem. OMH is an initiative led by CDMA development group (CDG) to enhance the CDMA customer base, offer them flexibility to change the handset and the operator conveniently, and to use voice and data services. Reliance Communications, Sismeta Shyam (MTS), Tata Teleservices and Virgin Mobile India are the operators supporting this initiative in India. Samsung and Micromax have already launched their OMH handsets.

"When CDMA phones were first launched in India, people were sceptical about it being SIM-Card-less and tied to the operator after getting used to the GSM model," shares Sandeep Sibal, country manager and vice president of technology, Qualcomm India & South Asia. "Open market handsets are operator-neutral not only for voice but also for data. It has created greater selection of devices for consumers," he adds.

"CDMA as a technology is well-positioned to have a great future," expresses Atul Joshi, chief sales officer, MTS. "There is a business case to put more smartphones and higher-end CDMA phones in India for the CDMA customers," states Joshi.

What is OMH?
OMH is a part of the Global Handset Requirements for CDMA (GHRC) initiative. GHRC brings a diverse group of operators and vendors for handset, application and chip-set to facilitate the delivery of feature-rich and affordable 3G devices across the globe. There are about 40+ companies (operators, OEMs, chip-set providers) working jointly to develop standards and specifications based on carrier requirements and device functionality.

The first worldwide trial of OMH was completed in India in August 2008 (source: www.cdg.org); also the first commercial OMH handset was launched by Samsung, Mpower 699 in India in August 2009. "India, being the second largest market for mobile phones in the world, with over 110 million subscribers was a natural choice to begin the programme," annotates Sibal.

"Today we have about six OMH handsets in the market. We plan to launch 25+
OMH handsets this year, ranging from entry-level phones to high-end multi-media phones," Sibal adds.

Joshi, from MTS says, "OMH market is expected to see double digit growth as it offers convergence of voice and data with ease of operation."

Technological Change
In the OMH ecosystem, the complete configuration settings to support operator and subscriber identification is shifted from the handset to Removable User Interface Modules (R-UIMs) card, commonly known as OHM SIM card. "Earlier only the voice and SMS were provisioned on the SIM card. By moving the network settings for data onto the SIM card, the handset is made operator neutral," explains Sibal.

Qualcomm provides the technology and the chip-sets for OMH. "Qualcomm's
chip-set QCS1010 onwards support OMH," shares Anil Kaushik, executive vice president, Fly Mobile. “Handsets using Qualcomm's OMH chip-sets are basically the OMH compliant handsets as they are capable of reading the network settings on the OMH SIM card," he adds.

"If you have a non OMH SIM card-based handset, you can change from one
CDMA operator to the other," explains Vikas Jain, business director,
Micromax. "But you will be able to access only the voice and SMS service
of the operator. All the data applications will need manual configurations
and can be tedious at times," he explains. Also, the handsets were locked
by the operators which made it difficult to switch the operator and have
the same handset.

The OMH handset is backward compatible and can work with a non OMH SIM
card. Similarly, an OMH SIM can work with a non-OMH handset. You can slide
in any operator's SIM in any handset and all the configuration settings
for voice and data will be done automatically.

Three-fold benefit
OMH offers great benefits to all the main players in the CDMA ecosystem--the consumer, the OEMs for the handsets and the operators.

"OMH has increased the choice of devices for the consumers with ease of access using OMH SIM cards. You can have great multimedia experience and leverage the Internet services on high-speed data networks of CDMA operators," says Vrajesh Shelat, head of wireless data business, Reliance Communications. It gives you the flexibility to chose the handset and has increased the touch points through retail distribution.

As OMH offers operator-independent handsets and services across the globe, there is an increase in device volume. "Earlier, there were lack of multimedia handsets and mid-range (2.5k to 9k) handsets in the CDMA space.

Larger device volumes across the geographies will play a vital role in lowering the handset prices," shares Deval Parikh, chief officer of handsets, VAS and procurement, Virgin Mobile India.

Jain, talking about his experience says, "OMH is one of the most exciting things for handset manufacturers. It has reduced the inventory risk, as one handset can be sold by many operators/distribution channels. With OMH, we can have retail presence rather than operator distributing the handsets."

OMH eliminates the operator specific testing. "For every operator, the OEM had to perform a device test on their network. As the handset becomes independent of the operator, it eliminates the testing related to the operator and increases time to market," says Jain.

One of the major benefits of OMH for the operators is that it lowers handset inventory cost. It creates open distribution channels and simplifies the supply chain management. "Operators need not have to worry about the inventory of the CDMA handsets," shares Parikh.

OMH also reduces the testing cost of the device at operators' end and the customer support.

Your Pick
OMH will serve to fuel the growth and popularity of CDMA just like GSM. As mobile phones are more like a style icon, consumer likes to change it every now and then. OMH will provide a great deal of flexibility to switch handsets and opt for high-end multimedia phones and smartphones for CDMA.

"So far we have binary runtime environment for wireless (BREW)-based OMH handsets. There are plans to launch Android-based handsets this year," shares Jain.

Just by sliding in the OMH SIM card, all the network settings get activated automatically unlike the lengthy process of calling the operator, getting the parameters, entering them manually and then finally using the data service.

OMH SIM cards and OMH handsets can be easily recognised by the trademark OMH logo, like a gem. "The OMH SIM card and the service will not carry any additional cost with it," shares Shelat.

Ajay Mathur, senior vice president, Tata Teleservices enunciates, "Within a very short span of the commercial launch of OMH, we have seen 15-20 per cent growth from open market initiatives. This platform will give a tremendous boost to high-end phones, use of Internet for rich data downloads in India."

It started off well, and holds great potential. The consumer, operator and
OEMs foresee a great market for OMH.

OMH Operators in India
Reliance Mobile
Tata Indicom
MTS
Virgin Mobile India



--Shweta Dhadiwal




 
 
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