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WiFi and phones: coming together


Slightly old news--I'm still catching up on some things I wanted to comment on.

A few days ago cisco announced that it would release a WiFi Phone in June. Quote:

The 7920 phone is essentially a wireless version of Cisco's 7960 IP (Internet Protocol) phone, which uses a wired Ethernet connection to make and receive telephone calls. However, the 7920 will have a wireless handset that uses an office's Wi-Fi network to connect. The device will start shipping in June, executives said Friday. Its price has not yet been disclosed.
Now, this is definitely interesting, but the real test will be when one of the cellphone carriers comes out with a (four-band?) 3G-GPRS-WiFi Phone. One of the problems of WiFi is, besides its limited range, its power consumption. A WiFi phone would need to be huge for its batteries to last more than a few hours of use (of standby mode, with active transfers it would last even less). While one would imagine that WiFi in phones won't take us back to the brick-cellphones of the 80s, and certainly at some point WiFi will become less power-hungry (probably in one of the derivative transports) in the meantime, it makes a lot of sense to have a phone were WiFi can be activated if we know we're in presence of a hotspot, and transparently route the calls through it, hopefully making them cheaper, and then revert to GPRS or whatever when out of range. Certainly this affects the business models of the carriers, but hopefully they'll see that if they don't do it, someone else will. Just like IP phones have been growing and long-distance carriers have had to take notice, so will the cell phone providers. The next couple of years will show whether they have learned that they can't fight a trend like this, but they could reap the benefits if they jump on it.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on April 28 2003 at 12:07 AM

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