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Wireless Networking Communications Hardware

Motorola Plans Wi-Fi Cell Phones 195

Otto writes "This AP article over at CNN talks about Motorola's plans to create a cell phone that can seemlessly switch calls between cell networks and VoIP over WiFi, when it sees WiFi available to it. Thus reducing on call costs. Personally, I think it'd be cool just to have a cell phone that could use my own WiFi at home and be cellular when I'm out in the rest of the world."
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Motorola Plans Wi-Fi Cell Phones

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  • Security? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by blackula ( 584329 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @01:48AM (#9124252)
    How long would it take for someone to write a Windows program that made it as easy as executing it to listen in on people's conversations over Wi-Fi? Lots of public hot spots don't use WEP, you know.
    • Re:Security? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LostCluster ( 625375 ) *
      I'd assume the conversation would be encrypted at the cell provider only to be decrypted by the phone itself.

      In order for such a seamless-changeover call to be even possible, it'd have to from the start be passing through the cell provider on the way to the VoIP last mile while it's being used...
      • for _really_ seamless operation they'd need the cellular providers co-operation.. or become one themself.

        With the call pricing around here I don't see much point in this unless one has to call hours per day.
    • About the same amount of time it takes for me to change channels on my cordless phone at home until I can hear my neighbour's conversations.

      Analog phones (generally) don't use encryption either.
  • Wonderful! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Phidoux ( 705500 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @01:50AM (#9124255) Homepage
    Now cell phones will be wireless too!
    • can i get mine with wireless firewire [slashdot.org], please?
    • Making cell phones use WiFi might not be a very good choice, when people will start ceasing to have WiFi connections in the first place. Flarion [flarion.com] has come up with OFDM technology which provides real broadband speeds on wireless networks (scaleable to cellular networks level), much faster than forthcoming CDMA2000-EvDO (or whatever), and any other technology available in the forthcoming future. Nextel has already started a successful trial network [yahoo.com].

      Wired WiFi services have limited life, it seems.
    • It's funny because it's trivial. VoIP's appeal is "cheap calls". My unlimited domestic long distance is included with my local service (for about $14 more than the "old" local service[including fees]), so my cost savings vs VoIP whould be minimal. I suppose, if you make a lot of international calls there would be a real savings (at least for now), but you don't need a more expensive cell phone to use it. The long and the short of it is "if you are tying to save money using VoIP, why whould you spend the
  • Where are they? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by platypussrex ( 594064 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @01:51AM (#9124258)
    The article talks about all these low cost WiFi hotspots. We have a local college where you must be a student or faculty, a Borders where you can pay T-Mobile $30 a month, and that's about it. Or maybe they are talking about crusing the neighbourhood looking for unsecured home wireless connections? Hmmmmm!
    • Re:Where are they? (Score:5, Informative)

      by homer_ca ( 144738 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @02:04AM (#9124307)
      It's actually not that hard to find a T-mobile hotspot. There's a Starbucks practically on every block. The cost savings argument doesn't make sense though. $30 a month is only $5 less than my cell phone plan. Also, you'll still need a paid VoIP account (about $20 a month) to call regular phones, otherwise you'll only be able to call other IP phones.
      Free hotspots are harder to find. In my neighborhood there's one at the food court at the mall and another one at a fast food restaurant. Plenty of unsecured wireless APs on my street too, but the CF Wifi card on my PDA is too weak to connect to them.
      • A Starbucks on every block?!? Harrisburg, PA just got their very first Starbucks. It's like Borneo over here, I swear.
      • homer_ca averred:
        > It's actually not that hard to find a T-mobile hotspot.
        > There's a Starbucks practically on every block.
        And so I used to think, until I started working in Providence, RI. The third Charbuck's in town just opened. I wonder if there aren't other cities that also lack those chains which are assumed by folks in The Big Cities to be ubiquitous.
        We had an NBC show named after us, there was a great show trial a couple of years ago (the mayor, Buddy Cianci) which you may have
    • Well, the point would be that since T-Mobile controls most of the bookstore WiFi systems, phones that would use T-Mobile for celluar mode could make use of the bookstore WiFi points. I know that my T-Mobile's cell phone signal gets weak inside my local Barnes and Noble store, and if T-Mobile's already there why don't they do something about eliminating that dead spot...
    • It's to use at home or work.
    • by asv108 ( 141455 )
      I live in the relatively small town of State College, PA. Besides wifi at home, work, and certain spots around the campus, there are a lot of businesses who now offer free wifi access. So far the grocery store cafe, two coffee/lunch places, and four restaurants offer free wifi access for their customers. I wrote about in some detail here [slashdot.org] and here [slashdot.org].
    • Free Wi-Fi is ubiquitous here in Austin. You have to pay at chain places like Starbuck's, but independent coffee shops are everywhere, and most of them offer free Wi-Fi. Walk into any coffee shop near campus or central Austin and you'll see loads of glowing Apples (the lids of powerbooks)...
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @01:51AM (#9124259)
    Here's a possible extention to this idea... allow the participating WiFi sites to announce the availability of a VoIP link back to the cell-provider's network, basically allowing anybody who roams by to borrow the WiFi as a mini cell tower, and letting the hotspot owner pocket a few pennies of savings on their bill for helping the stranger.

    This could become a low-cost way of extending a cell network into rural areas where it's hard to put up a traditional cell tower due to zoning hassles, but virtually anybody could mount a WiFi antenna on their roof next to their TV antenna.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @01:55AM (#9124271)
    As far as I knew, IDT wasn't a player in the cell phone market, just the landline long distance market...

    I'd have more confidence in this going to market if one of the big cellular players like Verizon, SBC/Cingular, or T-Mobile was the one doing this test.
  • War Phoning? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gremlins ( 588904 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @01:57AM (#9124277)
    Isn't this going to cause problems say when you walk by a company with lax wireless security and you unintentionally connect to their network and steal their services. Not saying I care but some one has to.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I disagree that it's automatically stealing. If they set up a wireless network and don't secure it, they are inviting you in. In essence, they're giving away the bandwidth.

      If you break their encryption and/or hack a password, THEN you're stealing the service.
      • Re:War Phoning? (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        In some places, it's a crime merely to connect to a network without permission, and that could reasonably apply to a phone that just happens to seek out any open wifi connections as you walk down the street.

        The law views it as if the street had a bunch of houses each with a gated yard. Open the gate and step in the yard (connect) and you've trespassed. Open gate, step in yard, enter the house (transmit something over their network), and you've commited a computer crimes felony.

        As well as probably steppe
        • what about a web server connected the internet and listening on port 80. Is connecting to that viewed as trespassing?
        • In some places, it's a crime merely to connect to a network without permission, and that could reasonably apply to a phone that just happens to seek out any open wifi connections as you walk down the street.

          I disagree. I think the law could be unreasonably applied in that case. If the phone is designed to automatically connect, which is not an unreasonable function, the scenario could play out like this: say you're linked to a free WiFI AP at a local diner, and you walk outside after eating breakfast and

  • Yes!

    Hopefully this would finally be a way to escape the "at-home dead zone" when I try and use my mobile down in the basement and I can get rid of that silly land-line once and for all!

    • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @02:01AM (#9124294)
      Hopefully this would finally be a way to escape the "at-home dead zone" when I try and use my mobile down in the basement and I can get rid of that silly land-line once and for all!

      Cell providers already have "mini tower" equipment they can set up in their stores to assure that they never have an embarassing dead spot at their own retail location. They even set those up at business sites to assure an otherwise uncoverable corperate campus gets hit with signal.

      I guess it was only a matter of time until they converted such units to a home game model...
      • by Technician ( 215283 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @02:55AM (#9124464)
        I guess it was only a matter of time until they converted such units to a home game model...

        A simple passive repeater is no problem to install in a dead zone such as a basement.

        A high gain antenna on the roof pointing to the cell tower is connected to an omni antenna in the basement. This provides signal in the dead zone.

        A small dish works great as it can be pointed to the tower providing high signal strength to feed the basement antenna. Be sure to use antennas cut to the freuency your cell provider is using. Use a large diamater low loss cable or all system gains will be lost in the first 15 feet of the cable. In extreme cases, eliptical waveguide may be used but it greatly adds to the cost of the project. To prevent cable loss, keep the cable as short as possible. Many houses have high attenuation because of masonary walls or aluminum backed insulation in the walls. A roof mount dish coupled with about 6 feet of wire to a ceiling mounted antenna are sometimes all that is needed to couple the signal from outside into the living space covering even the basement with good signal.
      • Here in Seoul, South Korea you regularly see "picocell" antennas for the 3 mobile networks in all kinds of places - underground bars, restaurants, subway stations, everywhere. My gym is 3 levels below street level and has its own antenna, so I get perfect coverage there too.

        It's pretty hard to find somewhere in this city where you don't have perfect cell coverage (including on the subway trains).
  • this is /..... (Score:3, Informative)

    by andrewleung ( 48567 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @01:58AM (#9124280)
    you really think this would get much time "in the rest of the world"? ha!

    just get a good old wifi phone and you'll never know the difference.

    wifi phones from pulver.com [pulverinnovations.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @01:58AM (#9124281)
    Is a cell phone that you could just plug into the wall when you're at home, and it would get both power and connection from there. In fact, I'd imagine someday people having one cell phone in their pocket, and maybe a "wired cell phone" in their homes, which would run off wall power and be more reliable since it wouldn't need a radio signal.

    I wonder what kind of protocol it could use.. maybe firewire protocol over wi-fi, converted to frames that could be sent over a wire like ethernet. There could be some kind of power-over-ethernet to supply it with DC. Then it could run out to the street, where it would go into a tower and be converted into real wi-fi signals, except encapsulated in GSM data so it could use the existing cellular infrastructure. No that's no good, coverage is spotty. Maybe satellites could be involved. Could be expensive. Maybe it could run over DSL? Hey there's an idea!

    Modern technology allows so many simple and elegant solutions to today's problems!

    Gotta run, I'm working on my latest invention: a way to take ebooks and permanently output them onto sheets of paper. I think this will revolutionize the ebook industry!
  • woohoo (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SinaSa ( 709393 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @01:59AM (#9124286) Homepage
    Yet another way for people to snoop my phone conversations. I seriously doubt any encryption you could implement on a mobile phone's processor for transmitting voice would be more than trivial to crack. SSH yes, mobile banking, yes, but no way is there you can encrypt my voice conversation.

    Suddenly the concept of wardriving has become a lot more interesting. "VoIP wireless hotspot" suddenly becomes synonymous with "Blackmail hole".
    • Re:woohoo (Score:2, Interesting)

      *cough* GSM?
    • processing (Score:5, Interesting)

      by GoClick ( 775762 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @02:43AM (#9124441)
      Actually a lot of cell phones have huge processing power that goes totally unused, not to mention that this would be on NEW devices. Think your 10 day standby time is good on a cell phone? There are wireless digital handsets in use in hospitals and universities that get 70 - 80 days of standby (even 150), why? Because they don't have the fancy processors and memory modern game play'n, websurf'n voice dial'n cell phones do. When you're sitting on the can playing Push-Push you're using more CPU than it would take to compress a voice stream.

      Encrypting a stream text or voice doesn't much matter it's about data rate not content, when you get a lag in an SSL terminal in virtually every case it's not the cryptography that's causing the delay. Modern public/privet key cryptography scales pretty well for various data rates. The rate of your digital voice conversation on your cell phone is pretty low (which is why it sounds like crystal clear 8 bit crap).

      Not to mention that you'd only need to start a new encrypted once and a while (to your provider not the WiFi Network) and NOT every time you make a call. Who cares if someone listens in on your traffic on the WiFi if it's just gibberish going to the Cell company any ways? Or did you think by any means your cell company would let you move to VoIP and connect to anyone OTHER than them?

      Puleeze these people practically invented sinister strangle hold service.
      • Unless you have specialized hardware, as most cell phones do, most of your processing power will go to voice coding. Why? Because the vocoders on cell phones were designed to be run through a DSP. GSM, for example, will generally use a DSP for its AMR encode/decode.

        Encryption could just as easily be designed to run on a DSP.
    • Well, 1) the people around you are already getting half of the conversation and 2) I bet it would be hard to 'wander off' to a secluded area near a one of these hotspots so someone couldn't eavesdrop, so only really stupid people would have problems.

      Of course, there are a lot of stupid people...
    • So the same encryption you gladly use walking around town is not good enough? (I'd imagine it would also support WEP, so you'd probably have two layers of encryption.) If you could listen in on conversations with this you could do it just as easily on normal cell phone conversations. At least with Wifi, it's limited range works in your favor, as it's much easier to look around and see if any suspicous black van types are around. Of course wandering around town talking about things so important it'd be wo
  • Ouch... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thelonious Monk ( 667418 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @02:00AM (#9124292) Journal
    This could seriously hurt cell phone service providers. With the growing popularity and widespread adoption of wi-fi everywhere, I wouldn't see a need to even have a provider. This is of course the phone is able to seamlessly jump from one wifi network to another - but then comes into consideration of reliable signals yadda yadda... It was only time for this to happen.
    • No you would still need a service provider. Cell companies would adopt a flat fee rate, with insane minutes, much like they are already doing. Your number needs to be 'hosted' by a company. I doubt the FCC would let you become your own telco.
      • Since the phone would have to have an IP address all that would be needed is something like dynamic DNS so you can directly dial the node that is the phone. It seems to me phone numbers will become relatively obsolete.

        With the rising ubiquity of bandwidth it seems to me the cost of TCP/IP time is also going to plummet. If TCP/IP on powerlines ever comes about the cost will really fall.

        What would help is if eventually phones could also act as routers so packets could flow from phone to phone to phone. T

    • Boo Hoo (Score:2, Interesting)

      The cell phone market (in the US) is now just a bunch of behind-the-times telco companies that missed the cell phone boat to begin with and are trying to make up for it by throwing lobbyists and salespeople at a saturated market anyways.

      802.11x is probably the only useful innovation left in cell phones, and the major providers are busy either ignoring it or trying to find a way to hijack the wi-fi hotspots that exist already to incorporate them into their networks and charge us for what *should* be free.

  • sigh... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Viceice ( 462967 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @02:03AM (#9124301)
    I have the feeling that unless it's tied into a service that still charges you a per minute charge on the call, the Cellphone cartels ^H^H^H^H^H.. companies going to make sure it dies out real quick.

    Whatever happened to the Motorola that had a Talkabout integrated into it so that you technically don't need to use your minutes if the person you want to talk to is within range??

    • Re:sigh... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LostCluster ( 625375 ) *
      I have the feeling that unless it's tied into a service that still charges you a per minute charge on the call, the Cellphone cartels ^H^H^H^H^H.. companies going to make sure it dies out real quick.

      Oh, this one will be. In order for a seamless jump from WiFi to Cellular to even be possible, the VoIP part of the call already had to be passing through the cell provider's network, since you can't exactly change "local loop"/"last mile" providers in the middle of a phone call.

      Whatever happened to the Motor
  • by updog ( 608318 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @02:04AM (#9124309) Homepage
    ring tone downloads at 54Mbps!
  • Dual Mode Phones FYI (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheOtherKiwi ( 743507 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @02:06AM (#9124316) Homepage Journal
    Just FYI, Ericsson and others have had dual-mode DECT/GSM phones since the late 90's and adoption has not been spectacular.

    These phones allow you to roam indoors on a DECT local digital connection to your landline and roam outside (or in large buildings) with seamless handover between DECT base stations. They also doubled as GSM but I don't think the handover was automatic, see:

    • for the lazy (Score:3, Informative)

      by Rev Saxon ( 666154 )
      Clicky [dectweb.com]
    • I have wanted a dual mode DECT/GSM phone for years. Unfortunately GSM handsets are not developed to be sold to consumers; they are developed to be sold to the cellular providers which then pass the phones off to the consumers for "free".

      Therefore the handset producers are very careful to not anger the providers by making products like those dual mode phones. Also, that is why the producers are pushing camera phones so heavily. It is not because most consumers really want a camera on their phone, but becau

      • I forgot another thing the handset producers are very carefully not doing: the Bluetooth handset profile. Lots of phones have Bluetooth support, and it's very simple to implement the handset profile. With that, you can use your cell phone as handset for a VoIP program if you have a Bluetooth card in your computer, or you can buy access points with Bluetooth and phone jacks which will allow you to call VoIP and over the regular phone network from the handset.

        This could be possible with practically no extra

    • Much as people in the United States had no idea what GSM was until about 3 years ago, and didn't grasp the benefits of standardization, most people in the US now don't have a clue what DECT is.

      Fundamentally, the issue of standardization vs. market chaos is what differentiates the European and U.S. markets.

  • admittedly the article was a bit light on detail, but this solution still doesn't seem to address emergency services (000, 911, etc) call routing...

  • What costs? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Prof.Phreak ( 584152 )
    Thus reducing on call costs.

    Am I the only person who's not counting minutes or worried about mobile phone costs?

    Whatever this `plan' may cost, I'm sure there are comprable conventional mobile phone plans that are nearly as limitless as wi-fi.

    It would be cool to have a phone that can talk to my computers via wi-fi, but arguing that it would somehow lower costs... that's a bit too much.
    • Whatever this `plan' may cost, I'm sure there are comprable conventional mobile phone plans that are nearly as limitless as wi-fi.

      Vonage offers unlimited residential service for $34.99 per month. $35 to a cell provider will get you roughly 500 peak-time minutes per month with nights and weekends unlimited.

      For somebody who makes a lot of peak-time calls, 500 minutes per month simply isn't going to do it. Sure there's a rate plan out there big enough to get all the minutes a user can stand, but it costs a
  • Excuse me if i'm being dumb, but wern't Cellphones always wireless ?
  • But can we use it? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by C0DEFEED ( 448578 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @02:13AM (#9124337)
    In the current market for cel phones in the U.S., we buy phones diretly from the cellular providers. What is their incentive to offer us a phone that cuts out a source of their revenue, even if it provides value to us?

    For those of us using GSM networks (i.e. Cingular, AT&T), we could always buy this phone from an independent vendor for top-dollar and transfer our SIM cards. Those of us willing to do this unfortunately represent a tiny part of the cel phone market.
    • by skraps ( 650379 )
      With "unlimited" plans becoming more and more common, you may want to reconsider that logic.
      They would stand to *save* money by having you use your own connection at home.
      • by C0DEFEED ( 448578 )
        Good point. If you have a truly *unlimited* plan, the carrier has incentive to divert you off their system. All of the plans from my carrier, however, have per-minute caps, and its strategy, as demonstrated by snail-mail add-ins and SMS spam, has been clearly directed towards getting me to use *more* minutes.

        I am interested to see how this plays out, as I have typically awful GSM coverage at home, but excellent WiFi coverage. This would be all I need to give SBC the boot it has long deserved.
  • A non-starter (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fname ( 199759 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @02:14AM (#9124345) Journal
    I don't get it at all. While I think it's a great idea to have WiFi phones on a campus (I had a crazy business plan for that 5 years ago!), I just don't see the point in the rest of the world. If I have a cellphone, I don't need WiFi. And unless WiFi coverage is ubiquitous, I wouldn't want a WiFi-only phone. I have a Treo 600 with unlimited data & 800 peak minutes a month plus unlimited n&w and mobile 2 mobile & phone insurance. I pay about $34 (a really good deal, but anyone could get that deal for $40-45 with some work).

    The point being, I ahve absolutely no need or desire for WiFi for either data or voice. A fat pipe would be nice for streaming audio, but I could live with a lower bitrate. Unless Motorola can make this 100% transparent, it will be such a colossal & immediate failure that New Coke, Audrey & Teledisic will look succesful by comparison. If they can make it 100% transparent, I doubt it will have any application outside of buildings with awful cell coverage; it just doesn't make any sense as a moneysaver, since most providers (e.g., SprintPCS) have excess capacity now.
  • by riprjak ( 158717 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @02:17AM (#9124357)
    ...years ago Telstra (Australias major Telco) trialled a device that was a GSM cellular phone but when within range of a specific base station functioned as a cordless land line...

    I think; I may have just been smoking some mighty fine crack and made the whole thing up...

    Anyone else in Oz remember this??

    • by scdeimos ( 632778 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @02:41AM (#9124433)
      Yup, this was back in the days when Telstra was still Telecom. This was the "Telecom Talkabout" system which was deployed in Brisbane and possibly other capitals. The digital access points had about a 100-200m range, but I think the cell phone component was still AMPS.

      As I recall there was a bit of a tussle over the tracability (or lack thereof) of the phones, but since you'd be able to nail them down to an access point I'd think a 100-200m is better positioning than GSM generally allows. :)
  • This will be awesome when these phones start coming out with VPN support and the ability to use your own VOIP provider.

    Of course, that will probably not be the case initially.

    Hmmm, may be a good time to invest in Vonage et al.
  • Handover? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mafelixs ( 732591 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @02:18AM (#9124360)

    So what happens if you move outside the WiFi coverage during a call? Handover between 3G networks and GSM should be possible, but is it possible to switch from WiFi to normal GSM without disconnecting the call? I believe this requires support from the network as well, meaning that the operators will have their say, too. Correct me if I'm wrong here.

    Continuing the VoIP traffic over GPRS data could be possible without new features to the network or disconnecting, but that does not sound very tempting, since the rates for standard GPRS are counted in Euros/MB where I live...

  • by scdeimos ( 632778 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @02:31AM (#9124396)
    [completely fictitious]Customer Jailed by Telco

    In Bell vs. John P. Citizen today, a federal court judge sentenced the defendant to 16 years jail for failing to pay the plaintiff US$5,000,000.00 in telecommunications charges. The defendant alleged that his Wi-Fi personal exchange was used by unauthorized parties to place multitudes of local, long-distance and overseas calls. By showing that the defendant had failed to secure his Wi-Fi exchange according to the fine print warnings and instructions on the last page of the 10,000 page manual accompanying the product, the prosecution proved the defendant liable for the full amount.

  • by detritus. ( 46421 ) * on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @02:38AM (#9124421)
    Personally, I think it'd be cool just to have a cell phone that could use my own WiFi at home and be cellular when I'm out in the rest of the world

    Actually, I think this concept has more potential use and adoption than using public hotspots. This would definitely give people who don't want to pay for an expensive POTS (and have cable internet or be lucky enough to have a local telco that doesn't require a POTS line with DSL service). I know alot of people who only have a cellular phone and complain about not being able to have good reception in all areas of their residence. Motorola's implementation doesn't make much sense, IMO.
  • Overkill But... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by complete loony ( 663508 ) <Jeremy@Lakeman.gmail@com> on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @02:42AM (#9124438)
    Just think, with one of the motorola phones, one of these PCI cards [yahoo.com], in a linux server running asterisk [asterisk.org], and a WiFi access point, you too could have a cordless phone!

    Just think of the geeky possibilities.

    And images all the babes you could impress!

  • Nokia 9500 (Score:4, Informative)

    by haunebu ( 16326 ) * on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @03:06AM (#9124489) Homepage
    "Personally, I think it'd be cool just to have a cell phone that could use my own WiFi at home and be cellular when I'm out in the rest of the world."

    There you go [nokia.com]. GPRS/EDGE when you're out and about, and Wi-Fi at your favorite hotspot.

  • Pointless Idea! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tarunthegreat2 ( 761545 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @03:18AM (#9124516)
    Why would you want to use Wi-Fi, when you have a tried and tested secure, ready-to-use technology like 3GSM? If it really is all about cheap calls, then 3G takes care of those issues anyway. Cellphone providers outside America (Europe-Asia) have woken up to the fact that they aren't going to make any money off voice anymore, as rates are low, and it's tough to raise then in the current situation. This was part of the motivation for upping the bandwidth available to mobile networks, so as to provide users with "value-added services" much like what DoCoMo is already doing in Japan. With so much bandwidth available, voice calls become dirt cheap anyway, since youll instead be paying for that Music Video you just downloaded, e.t.c. WiFi is fine and dandy in the states, but outside it, it's still spotty coverage (and inside too).... You can find all info regarding 3G at GSM World [gsmworld.com]. Yes 3G networks have yet to get off the ground, but that's not because the technology sucks. It's for opther reasons (i.e. ludicrous spectrum license fees, inertia on part of the mobile providers to release 3G handests e.t.c.) Eventually, the mobile networks will be as fast WiFi, and our mobile phones are already just more than that. Why try and fit WiFi onto cellphones when 3G already has the inbuilt billing, encryption and other stuff ready?
    • Well, firstly, the 3G calls utilising video in the UK are darned expensive. Nearly $1 per minute.
    • Your so-called low rates are still at a dollar a minute in Denmark. Even on the 3G networks. Except when you call the other customer on the 3G network at night, then it's free. Very useful, that.
  • I built a wifi voip phone a couple years ago and tried pitching it to Sprint (with never a response). Guess I picked the wrong company to try to sell the idea too! ;)
  • Save on antennae (Score:3, Interesting)

    by spectrokid ( 660550 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @03:51AM (#9124623) Homepage
    Nokia always said they were not going to do this because it cuts in their customers (read: telco's) revenues. But get to think of it, it would be real cool to do 3G. Give all your ADSL customers routers with built in WIFI. Use the leftover bandwith to allow any of your 3G customers passing by to connect via WIFI instead of UMTS. Save a bundle on antennae, less complaints of people who think UMTS gives you cancer....
  • by awehttam ( 779031 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @03:58AM (#9124640)
    Or, setup an Asterisk box, get yourself a NuFone account and use E164.org [e164.org] to resolve pstn numbers to voip addresses over the Internet.

    Set up Asterisk to try an EnumLookup [voip-info.org] first, then fall back to NuFone [nufone.net] or your home landline using a $16 X100P WinModem from DigitNetworks. [digitnetworks.com]

    Get all your friends to register their phone numbers with E164.org too, it's a free ENUM service that also verifies people's numbers.

    Then if you're really feeling groovy, help a local Community Wireless Network deploy an 802.11a backbone with 11g hotspots all over the place ;) [seattlewireless.net] Works great with Asterisk and serexpress. :)

  • by NewtonsLaw ( 409638 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @04:33AM (#9124724)
    I wrote this column [aardvark.co.nz] a year ago in which I suggested that a dual-mode WiFi/Cellular phone would be a good idea.

    Thanks for listening Motorola! :-)
  • VoIP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cinematique ( 167333 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @04:57AM (#9124805)
    Is there a market for a device like this? Am I the only one that thinks that voice over IP/WiFi is complete crap right now? I tried Vonage for a week. Hated it.

    Why? Because there were gaps and pits in conversations... awkward silences due to missed packets... missed incoming calls... et cetera. Don't get me wrong... I think the tech has promise, but as it stands right now, VoIP is not ready for primetime.

    Furthermore, the broadband providers need to get their shit together, too. DOCSIS nor xDSL are very reliable and I use a relatively respectable provider (RR). It seems that the move to VoIP is being based more on trying to save a quick buck, for customers and providers alike, and less about QoS, rock-solid reliability, and future practicality.

    I mean REALLY... what good is side-stepping the CLECs in the name of lower costs when they're the ones we ultimately have to route calls through to call POTS lines from time to time?

    Look... I know there are some of you out there who really love VoIP, but I'm worried that five years down the road, the teleco infrastructure will be worse off. Economics are slowly encouraging people to move to an ad-hoc network which was not originally designed to do what we're asking it to do... handing telephone calls. This same network is polluted with worms and viruses. Do you think customers want to lose their dialtone because some asshat decides to release a Windows exploit?

    But then you could use the GSM signal as backup! Right. Now what about the people living in rural areas? They count just as much as the rest of the country.

    I could go deeper, but I'll stop unless someone encourages me to add more.
  • Beyond 3G (Score:2, Informative)

    by jameskstew ( 779042 )
    The industry has been planning this for at least 5 years if not longer - most of the big technology companies and operators are working on network integration where the particular wireless access method is interchangeable. There are a vareity of business models, the primary one is the operator owns or leases access on GSM, 3G, DVB, DAB, WLAN networks and uses them to provide a range of multimedia services. Using a network management system they can move traffic between radio access systems to optimise bandw
  • by iamacat ( 583406 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @05:35AM (#9124899)
    cell phone that can seemlessly switch calls between cell networks and VoIP over WiFi, when it sees WiFi available to it

    No, I want a cell phone that can seemlessly switch my iBook's internet access between WiFi and cell networks when it sees that WiFi is not available. Just consider which situation is more common and design products accordingly.
  • Okay, not *exactly* the same. However, I remember a combined GSM cellular/DECT phone years ago. DECT is the digital standard used for wireless phones in Europe. It would use your DECT base station when you were at home, and a GSM connection when you were not. It did not support things like seamless handover, so you couldn't just take your call with you.

    My GSM provider offers a virtual "home zone" 1km in diameter around my house, so I have cheap phone calls even using GSM. Plus, I have an additional local p
  • TapRoot Systems (Score:4, Interesting)

    by airuck ( 300354 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @08:49AM (#9125563)

    TapRoot Systems [taprootsystems.com] has been working on 802.11b capable phones for some time now.

    I live in a rural university town which happens to have a large number of open hotspots in cafes, restaurants, and offices. It also happens to have terrible cell coverage. I'll be first in line for a WiFi capable phone.

  • How about we have a wireless phone that acts as a WiFi access point, providing network access to computers in its range through the service provider?

    Wouldn't that be more useful, and require essentially the same hardware as this?

    And yes, I know you can get a phone with a bluetooth adapter, but unfortunately most laptops now come with 802.11b but not bluetooth.
  • It's being done (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rbrome ( 175029 )
    At 3GSM this year in Cannes, I was briefed by a company called Kineto. Motorola is actually working on several different wi-fi/cell phone technologies, and Kineto's technology is one of them.

    Personally, I think it'd be cool just to have a cell phone that could use my own WiFi at home and be cellular when I'm out in the rest of the world.

    That's exactly what Kineto's technology is designed to do. Or, for business accounts, it would use your business' WiFi when workers are in the office.

    Hopefully this wo
  • This is what I've been waiting for! Perfect cell phone reception at home with VoIP, plus the ability to pick up my phone and leave home without worrying if someone will miss me by calling at home. Excellent.
  • I've recently setup Wi-Fi (I hate that term) in my office and also had to do some telephone work the same week. It made me think how nice it would be to have Wi-Fi phones for all the employees and how easy it would be for them to get around with them. Myself especially as I move around the building most of the day.

    I don't know the real world benefit of Wi-Fi phones for consumers. I live in a reletively small town, 250,000 people, and Wi-Fi networks aren't as well blanketted as they would be in a town of a
  • Gee, how would this work at my house? I've got my access point locked down via WPA and PEAP authentication. Is motorola going to include an 802.1x client for every type of wireless security? WPA? WEP? PEAP? LEAP? EAP-TLS?

    Until the next 802.whatever standard is ratified, this is going to be a kludge...


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