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Kineto Wireless has announced the launch of a UMA-based solution called ‘Smart WiFi Offload’ which can be ported onto smartphones allowing them to offer carrier -grade voice and SMS services over WiFi. In simple terms it is a UMA client in application form, which runs in the background on the smartphone. They hope to offer it initially over Android phones and have prototypes for Iphone and Nokia devices.

The application however has certain smarts built into it like the ability to do smart service selection, wherein the user can select the kind of services like Voice/SMS, Mobile TV, MMS that can be obtained from the operator and/or general Internet services that are not operator related. One of the big advantages though is that once the smartphone is connected through Smart WiFi to the operator’s core network, the cellular radio shuts down automatically saving critical battery life on the handset. The advantage is that operators can continue offering their crucial revenue generating services like voice and SMS when the user is connected via Smart WiFi. This is the key differentiator of Smart WiFi compared to normal WiFi.

What Kineto hopes to do is to sell more of their gateways to support Smart WiFI devices. Kineto hopes this could be a big seller to operators who already have UMA services on offer and are losing revenue to services like Skype. More importantly they would like to convert non-UMA operators to UMA by installing their gateways, which conveniently can also support femtocells. The application will be available initially preloaded on some of the Android devices but there are plans for it to be sold through Application Stores like the Apple App Store for example.

Kineto’s timing for this might be slightly unfortunate as just last week T-Mobile decided to shut down their Hotspot@Home service which wasn’t earning any revenue for them. Offering low-price calling over WiFi has not really worked for operators till now and users seem far happier to use Skype or many of the other VoIP services to make calls through WiFi. How will Kineto’s Smart WiFi application help? Well, it has to be priced competitively to the VoIP services in the first place and the ability for users to continue using SMS and voice calls on their phone when connected to WiFi is definitely a big draw. Smart WiFi certainly is a new way of incentivizing smartphones users to switch to WiFi when indoors.

One teething issue that still remains is the inability to do handovers although the phone will switch to Smart WiFi once it spots a recognizable WiFi hotspot. Handover is a critical feature that needs to be solved fast, which Kineto says is complicated but will be solved soon. How soon remains to be seen.

While femtocells start to find their way into operator networks, Kineto hopes Smart WiFi will offload some of the capacity headaches that they face now. Utilizing a growing smartphone and WiFi hotspot user base, there is certainly something for Kineto to chew upon. The question is will this be only limited to the ‘UMA friendly’ operators like T-Mobile and Orange or will we see wider adoption from the likes of AT&T and O2 who are facing severe capacity crunches in their networks?