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Wireless Networking Hardware

BT's Converged Wi-Fi/Cell Phone 88

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the well-kinda-anyway dept.
judgecorp writes "BT has been talking for more than a year about "Bluephone" - a cellphone that roams to a wireless network, when you are in the house. Just when we thought it was all hype and vapour, BT is revealing more details. Good news - it will move to Wi-Fi, when Wi-Fi handsets are cheap and good. The first version will still use Bluetooth, because Bluetooth works. Bad news - it's not a SIP phone, and therefore not really a converged phone. It doesn't roam calls onto the Internet, or even onto the landline, where they would be cheaper. Wi-Fi or Bluetooth is just an alternative for the first few feet of the call. Takes a few calls off the cell network, but doesn't do a lot for the user, apart from giving you just one phone to lose."
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BT's Converged Wi-Fi/Cell Phone

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  • A key point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by codesurfer (786910) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @03:48PM (#11495557)
    From TFA
    At the most basic level, voice over Wi-Fi treats voice as just another kind of data. It runs voice over IP and uses SIP addresses to route calls across the Internet. This is anathema to the cell networks, who have no intention of allowing voice over IP. For them, data is a means to squeeze more revenue from reluctant customers, not a means to let customers get voice services for less money.

    Sadly this has always been one of the major stumbling blocks, and I'm not sure there is a viable solution in sight.
    • Re:A key point (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gl4ss (559668)
      you can voice-over ip over cellular data connections... depending on what kind of connections your provider allows, of course.

      under most billings it makes no sense, of course. but think of it long and hard - would it make any sense if it was _really_ cheaper to talk over the data connection instead of the 'voice' connection(that goes in packets anyhow) of the phone? the operator would always have the access to the way to offer the voice over their network the cheapest, most effective, way.

      of course with t
    • Re:A key point (Score:3, Insightful)

      by FrankHaynes (467244)
      I asked a buddy who works in the field for A Major U.S. Cell Carrier and when we were discussing their EV-DO data network, I speculated that it would be cool to say hasta la vista, baby! to all wireline providers, get a data+phone, and run my home Internet access AND VoIP all over that single "cell" phone.

      He countered by stating that they sell a device that uses only their SIM card and has no viable way to get to it from the outside such as Bluetooth, thus preventing my evil plan from cutting into their vo
      • Holy crap, isn't Sanka decaf? How are you holding up, Frank?

        I'd be weeping, drooling, and making little gurgling sounds by midway through my first day on decaf.

        Best of luck to you, although I have no idea why you'd undertake such a thing.

        As for why folks would want wired bandwidth; I suspect you're correct that when Wi-fi is in more places, it won't be necessary for the average user to have any sort of wired connection to the outside; especially if it's cellular-like (by that I mean cellular-type signal
        • If you know networking, consider that WiFi is like using a hub. The more users you have in the area, the worse your signal gets because of all the cross-communication and chatter from the associated endpoints. Consider that WiFi is also broadcasting to everyone, even those that are not using the network, so security can be iffy at best. It also must deal with interference (nature, badly tuned transmitters, etc) which can significantly degrade performance.

          Compare that to wired communications. Point to Point
          • Agreed, and well-put. Wired communication will not go away in the forseeable future.

            I do believe, tho, that sooner rather than later we'll come up with some better Wi-Fi security, signal strength, and hopefully less "chatty" ways in which to make and keep a connection.

            I'll still be extremely excited when Wi-Fi access becomes reasonably ubiquitous, however. That'll be rocking.
            • Wired communication will not go away in the forseeable future

              Perhaps not, but it will cease to be the default after a while. Copper will be sold for it's relative security, perceived or not.

    • The missing link could be created by some enterprising start-up. What is missing is an attachment to a cell phone, that would look at surrounding wifi connections and then see if you have access rights (a stored login) and if not, then it would dial the traditional cell phone. I don't think any of the traditional cell phone manufacturers would make this--they are too embedded with the communications providers. But you could adapt the "smarts" around the phone and intercept the receivers.

      This would probably
    • "This is anathema to the cell networks, who have no intention of allowing voice over IP. For them, data is a means to squeeze more revenue from reluctant customers, not a means to let customers get voice services for less money."

      While this is still somewhat true today, all carriers are moving to unlimited plans in-network, and practically unlimited plans otherwise (national tarrifs aside). Data traffic is already covered by bucket or unlimited plans, so I'm not really sure the operators are that worried.
    • This isn't SIP, but it is VoIP all right. This is VoIP for the cell-co's benefit, not (directly) yours.

      If you RTFA, you'll find references to UMA. That is 'Unlicensed Mobile Access'.

      The idea in UMA is to route your voice calls from the GSM mobile-switch, over the internet, over your WiFi/BlueTooth Access Point, and in to your phone -- when you are within range of any such access point which lets you in.

      As compared to GSM/DECT combo solutions, what you get here is the hand-off capability -- you can s

  • cisco (Score:3, Informative)

    by greechneb (574646) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @03:48PM (#11495561) Journal
    I know cisco is working hard on this too. A cisco show I recently attended said that they are planning on having a similar product out sometime that will switch from cell to your phone system when you are within range. I thought their target date was sometime this year.
    • With wireless access becoming more widespread why not drop the GSM part altogether like this product [zyxel.com]?
      • by pv2b (231846)
        Because the Zyxel Prestige 2000W appears to suck [slacker.com].

        I haven't read about the Cisco phones, but they're priced even higher -- unreasonably high compared to a simple DECT phone and a Quicknet Internet PhoneJack card [quicknet.net]. Although I haven't tried this either, but it looks pretty sweet.

        The idea of a Zyxel Prestige 2000W was pretty cool though, and I wish it were good. The idea is cool, and I actually considered it instead of a DECT cordless myself. But that review pretty much put me off.
        • I does not exactly suck.
          I use a firmware one version later than in the review.

          If you just want a wireless phone (or especially if you want more than one) at home then get a DECT phone and an adapter (E.g. the Linksys or HandyTone from http://sipphone.com/adapters/). I would never buy a card that would only work when my computer was on.

          But if you want an internet phone that you can bring to work, friends, cafes etc, then the Zyxel/WSIP is a good deal.
        • I have a 2000W and I don't think it sucks (I have the latest firmware). I have the feeling, however, that the true potential of such a device is not to just connect to your personal WiFi station but to log in from almost everywhere once WiFi has become a commodity. Of course, such widespread availability of WiFi hotspots might not happen anytime soon but the potential is there.
  • by chris09876 (643289) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @03:48PM (#11495565)
    This isn't going to be a replacement for cell phones. I don't think the bluetooth capability is that much of a benefit. Needing the base station really limits where you can use it. They did say that they'd have a WiFi version in 2006 though... that has potential :) Cell + data coverage is just unnecessarily expensive.
    • I just re-read that, and it said even in 2006, their WiFi model WON'T be able to do VoIP... what's the point? It sounds like they're going to miss out on all the potential that exists with the internet and VoIP
      • There's virtually no VOIP in the UK so why would they bother?

        There are some things holding back takeup:

        1. VOIP is more expensive to call out than 3rd party analogue (eg. call18866)
        2. VOIP uses premium rate number for incoming calls so unless you hate all your friends you've got to have an analogue/mobile anyway.
        3. VOIP runs over DSL - which requires a voice line, so you end up paying rental twice (three times if you count the DSL).
        4. You can't buy VOIP retail in this country, and nobody except a few slash
        • unless you get BT communicator?

          http://www.bt.com/btcommunicator/index.jsp?BV_Se ss ionID=@@@@0367275130.1106859812@@@@&BV_EngineID=cc cdadddjlfjdhlcflgcefkdffndfkk.0

          hmmmm took me 10 minutes to find on BT.com... still free calls for a month!

          gee....
        • >2. VOIP uses premium rate number for incoming calls so unless you hate
          >all your friends you've got to have an analogue/mobile anyway.

          Is it cheaper to call mobile phones than VoIP phones?
          Your friend can get their own SIP-phone and call you free.

          >3. VOIP runs over DSL - which requires a voice line, so you end up
          >paying rental twice (three times if you count the DSL).
          • Yes it is - In this country we get free call minutes on mobiles that cover mobile->mobile calls.

            Most VOIP providers are 0836 numbers (45p/minute) which are more expensive than mobile phones.

            TBH mobile has killed home VOIP anyway. Hardly anyone has landlines any more (I only have one because I need it for DSL), and mobile is really convenient, plus everyone has it.
            • Almost everything you say here is wrong or misleading...

              Some mobile packages include free mobile to mobile calls, up to N minutes per month at least, but many don't (probably the majority of low end packages anyway).

              See my other post - most VoIP providers that I've seen (BT, Vonage and Gossiptel) do NOT require premium rate.

              Mobiles are very convenient and people with plenty of cash or who make shorter phone calls tend to use them all the time. However, the cost and health concerns (recently in the press
        • VoIP is developing but you are way off the mark except for point 1.

          1. SkypeOut works out very close to the cost of 18866, who are one of the cheapest 3rd party analogue providers. IMO the real reason to get VoIP is (a) cheap 2nd or 3rd line and (b) ultimately to dump BT line rental. The UK Post Office is getting into line rental so perhaps costs for that will drop too. In the long term you might just have a cheaper WiMax connection and no landline at all.

          2. VoIP providers such as BT, Vonage UK and Goss
          • 1. SypeOut is *still* more expensive. Plus you *can't* get cheaper BT line rental if you have an ADSL line. Skype is also v.low quality and not true VOIP - you can't plug an ordinary phone into an adapter.

            2. Yes they do. Just read up on it instead of reading the first page of all thse sites and guessing. The cheapest you can get (if you pay enough in rental to cover the calls to BT) is 0845 which is *not* local it's lo_call, which is a marketing scam (it cost around double the local call rate and you do
            • 1. I agree Skype is still slightly more expensive (as in my original post). Skype is very high quality generally, some think it's better than PSTN because of its frequency range.

              2. Let's take Vonage UK as an example (others such as Gossiptel are similar). They offer the following area codes for no extra fee, you just choose one when signing up:

              0121 Birmingham
              0131 Edinburgh
              0141 Glasgow
              0151 Liverpool
              0161 Manchester
              01914 Newcastle
              020 London (Central)
              020 London (Greater)
              02380 Sout
  • I thought a while back when PCS was first coming out that it was supposed to stand for "Personal Communication Service" and it was going to offer a way to hook up to your home phone system. Basically when you were at home you would be connected through your land line like a normal portable phone and then you would roam onto the network when you were away from home.

    I still can't see the purpose of this unless you get bad reception from home.
  • BT is not nearly ubiquitous enough and doesn't have enough range. Of course, I'm already holding a 1.9GHz transmitter up to my head, I'm not sure I really want to move up to 2.4GHz, but the point is that bluetooth isn't readily available for free all over the world like wifi.
    • The frequency of the transmitter isn't what you should be worried about; the power is. The transmitter in a cellphone is a lot more powerful than a bluetooth or wifi transmitter (or an ordinary cordless phone). If cellphones used transmitters as weak as those used for bluetooth, there'd need to be a dozen cell towers on every block.
    • If they use Class 1 Bluetooth (100mW), it has great range: we use it and can count on >50 meters indoors in real-world conditions (walls, steel beams, and so forth). It uses frequency hopping, making it even more robust than WiFi at half the power consumption or less. Bandwidth is much lower than WiFi, but plenty for voice.

      Most folks are familiar with Class 2 or Class 3 Bluetooth (2.5mW and 1mW respectively, I think) designed for cell phone accessories and so forth, which are very short-range, and wou
      • But the quality of connection possible is not the most important factor... The availability is. It might be fine for replacing your home phone - a bt cellphone could make voip calls when you're at home. That's useful and will sell, but not as well as one which can make calls from any open wifi Ap.
  • newsflash.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gl4ss (559668) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @03:54PM (#11495616) Homepage Journal
    ..with right drivers(I don't know about xp's own) you can use bluetooth handsfrees to talk on whatever VOIP you want.

    so.. this is pretty weak.

    more than that. there's a fundamental problem over here.. once you make those wifi networks the operators will just lower prices.. so it's kind of worth it and kind of not because you'll never make wifi as good/effective(that means 'cheap') for large amounts of voice users like cellular networks.

    (my cellular bills aren't really killing me anyhow, not enough to even bother with skype most of the time)
    • Good point. I actually used a little bluetooth earset (it's not really a headset, since it all fits on one ear) with my PowerBook last evening, just to see if it would work. It was passable. The sound quality was a little iffy, but that may be due to the earset. Skype worked fine, and speech control worked as well, though I don't generally use that. I forget what kind it was . . . it was made for use with cell phones primarily. Brand name started with a C.
  • by pv2b (231846) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @03:54PM (#11495617)
    "Bad news - it's not a SIP phone, and therefore not really a converged phone. It doesn't roam calls onto the Internet, or even onto the landline, where they would be cheaper. Wi-Fi or Bluetooth is just an alternative for the first few feet of the call. Takes a few calls off the cell network, but doesn't do a lot for the user, apart from giving you just one phone to lose."

    Okay... how is this better than a combined GSM/DECT phone? (They used to make them anyway, do they still?)

    I could see the general idea useful in an office which already has a 802.11b/g infrastructure in place to route calls to. But this device doesn't really seem to be aimed at that market. But that could actually be pretty cool if they got some working QoS going and SIP to connect to the central office telephone switch. But this doesn't seem to be it.

    Although a real combined 802.11g SIP phone and GSM might just be useful in that respect.
  • I work in IT for a large (35 sites) K-12 campus. We have Wi-Fi spanning most of the area and I use a Cisco 7920 [cisco.com] to make/receive calls anywhere, internal and external.

    Granted we're running Call Manager for this to work, but it's pretty sweet none the less.
    • From your own link to the Cisco site, doesn't that phone only support Skinny and not SIP?

      For the uninitiated: Skinny is a proprietary Cisco protocol which serves many of the same functions as SIP, although I believe it does offer some performance enhancements when compared to SIP. The Cisco CallMangers are their PBX of sorts, which route calls to IP addresses, can integrate with traditional PBXes, etc.
      • I believe that is correct. Though it's rather expensive, I've been very happy with the features and performance it has provided. I've used a 7960 [cisco.com] at my desk for a while now and my cellphone shares the exact same profile. All my extensions, missed calls, received calls, voicemail, speed dials, etc are shared between the 2 no matter where I am in the township.
  • I read the article, and I don't get it.

    Bluephone calls use the GSM network. When they transfer a call to use the Bluetooth link, they just transfer the first few yards of that call.

    So your phone is communicating with a Bluetooth base station in your house. How is the base station communicating with the world? The Slashdot blurb says, "It doesn't roam calls onto the Internet, or even onto the landline, where they would be cheaper." What does that leave?

    Is the Bluetooth base station communicating with
    • What the editorial meant (I think) is that the system doesn't *roam* between landline basestations. I think it does route calls that you make in your house or office into your landline via a voip infrastructure - so you can use all your saved numbers on your cell phone while sitting and watching TV!

      I think that the big bonus is for corporate customers who are often in different offices of their multi national super company, but only reachable by their cell. Using this kind of system they'll get a big cost
  • by quinxy (788909)
    I may be missing something, but...

    My Siemens SX 66 (HTC Blue Angel) does cell/SIP/Skype/etc. now via 802.11/bluetooth/etc. A number of other phones (other incarnations of the HTC Blue Angel as well as the HP 6315) can do all this stuff, too.

    And, if you're looking for this sort of thing without the cell phone, there are existing products for that, including the KW2000 IP Connection WiFi Netphone [pcconnection.com].

    Q

  • The bluetooth/wifi signals are far less powerful than your average cell signal - this makes using it with wifi at home or office awesome, especially for people like me who have no home phone and spend thousands of minutes a month on the phone. It would reduce potentially harmful cell mutation and with less power used to transmit it would get better battery life. Having the phone roam to using the Internet to make calls is a natural progression, and it'll rule.
    • How much less cancer?

      I tried to find studies on this, but googling didn't produce much that seemed helpful. I was trying to find out the SAR values for using a WiFi phone, presumably it's not regulated in that way, so no one produces much data on it. But does anyone know?

      Also, on a related note, GPRS, let's say I use my converged phone to be always-on, connected to IM/etc. How much of a dose am I getting all the time compared to talking on a call? Is having GPRS on all the time equivalent to 100% of t
      • Assuming for a moment that cell phones cause cancer -- something of which I'm sceptical to say the least.

        I think the maximum legal output is somewhere around +15 to +20 dBm in the 2.4 GHz ISM band which is somewhere around 30 to 100 mW.

        Which is a little lower than the maximum power of 2 W (IIRC another figured pulled from my ass here, but I think it's pretty accurate) which a GSM phone can put out legally.

        Now, in the city, most GSM phones will cut back on the power anyway to save the battery. But 2000 mW
        • I should probably add that you can get quite a distance at 100 mW. You'd be surprised how many 2 m / 70 cm amateur radio repeaters you can use semi-comfortably with one of those "tiny" FM handhelds.

          Then again 144 MHz and 430 MHz aren't quite 900 MHz, 1800 MHz or 2400 MHz, but still...
  • I'm not sure if this marriage between Wi-Fi and Cellular will be one to last for the ages. I see an direct link between corporations fighting over communication battle lines (Wi-Fi = Open Source and Cellular = Big Business). Big Business would start being your Wi-Fi carrier of VoIP rather than companies like Vonage. This will be a very bloody battle.....
    • I think in the business world the cellular carriers would should be all over this (though it will probably end up being similar to the RIAA / MPAA missing the indicators).

      Already a bunch of businesses of all sizes are starting to use SIP / VOIP. Some with external providers like Vonage, some with their own VOIP PBX.

      Now lets say for the ones that have their own PBX call comes in, while user is in the office it goes over the local wi-fi to the phone. When that phone leaves the office the call is routed to
      • But that's my exact arguement. Where does the Wi-Fi end and the carrier begin? I wouldn't be surprised if external providers like Vonage merge with wireless companies for this very reason.
  • I won't be buying one, but it sounds like a good idea and a good experiment. Heck, just a couple years ago I got my first cell phone - a basic job with a basic, basic plan. Cheap, worked like a charm. The same features existed 10 years previously, but were more expensive, difficult, etc. So I love hearing about new ideas and gadgets like this, because I know it means about 10 years down the line they'll be ready for primetime, ubiquitous, and they'll make my life easier.
  • I've seen working versions of these from Motorola. Don't ask me the model number though. Is this new news or am I missing something? The Motorola phone auto switches to WiFi in the building, then it's Cingular service outside. I saw it, and played with a working version about a year ago.
  • Probably old news, but the guys who made Skype made a linux and PocketPC version. So many people already use Skype to talk to each other over IP for free. One could use a PocketPC device and Skype as a WiFi phone very easily. Battery power stinks for PPC's right now, but when they get better, I think the cell phone companies will start to worry then.
    • And don't forget about the SIP software for Pocket PCs, including X-Pro for Pocket PC [xten.com] (you can still find their 'lite' version on freeware sites).
    • I met a group of engineers on the overnight train from Beijing to Shanghai who were setting up a test of a prototype in-train wireless network (802.11b) service in the restaurant car. Seing my notebook, they asked me to join in on the test. The system used multiple mobile connections (GSM and CDMA).

      One of them was using a small PocketPC device with wireless and Skype quite extensively as a mobile phone, and reported that it worked reasonably well. He even managed to use it over the prototype train netwo
  • I don't get it. Why do people care about Wi-Fi so much? Do you really want your phone to consume more power and require configuration, a running DHCP server, etc?

    Bluetooth was designed for a reason, wi-fi is different. They serve different purposes.
    • How about a $200 box that is a GSM cell plugged into the ethernet network. I can then roam into it, and prevent others to roam. So then I can use my 'cell/network' to route all calls via the net or LLine. How hard could it be to make a 200feet wide area micro cell thats $200?
  • Obviously consumers want free calls, but thats of no interest to the cell companies. For many years however the wireless companies have struggled with a growing problem of network capacity, and wanting to offer a local wireless loop to compete with the wireline. There are many teams at big and small companies working on the problem. Essentially what they ideally would like to do is place a basestation (what they tend to call a picocell) in your home or buisness. It has very limited range, and that is delibe
  • Missing the point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrZeebo (331403) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @05:21PM (#11496657) Homepage
    A lot of posts here seem to be missing the point.

    The point is NOT to let you use VOIP with your cell phone. They aren't making this so that you can walk around your house talking on Skype or with some SIP service. I think that the actual reason behind this technology is quite smart.

    I have a cell phone. The phone works great and has great reception when I'm out and about, at college, etc. But, I live in a suburban residential area. It is by no means "rural", but still there is not very good cell phone coverage in the area of my house. So, I can use my cell phone wonderfully out in the city area, but not very well around my home, which is the major reason I haven't switch yet to cell-phone-only. I am far from the only person I know who is in this situation. Great reception in general, but weak or no reception at home.

    This technology would solve my problem. If I am out and there is cell phone coverage, the phone would use the cell towers. When I walk into my house and the tower reception goes away, the phone would switch right over to my bluetooth access. Sure, it wouldn't be cheap like Skype. But, chances are you'd pay some regular monthly fee (maybe higher than normal...) and this access point would be enabled.

    So, the point isn't to make calls cheaper, it's to give you access in the one place that many people don't have it already.
  • A recent survey has shown there are now actually more mobile/cell phones in the UK than there are people. With the cheap 'pay as you go' phones and every contract giving you a free one, it's actually quite hard to get a contract without a phone. Right now there are two dead phones laying on the floor behind me which I really should through in the bin/trash. There are also two perfectly servicable phones in a drawer downstairs, one being my old T68i because I got an upgrade, and one being a virtually unus
  • Have you guys heard of UPS making their business transition to wireless? (using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) I'm wondering how it works?

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