Nokia recently announced the 9500 model which is a Wi-fi enabled successor to the 9200 Communicator series. In another announcement Skype developers said they had plans to port their popular P2P net telephony software to PDAs. Can unified telephony become a reality, made possible with the convergence of Wi-fi, VoIP and cellular services? These three stories speculate on various outcomes.
Indoor Wi-Fi coverage would be offered by cellular carriers as an added service. Subscribers would likely have to pay an extra $5 to $20 a month for it, says Ken Kolderup, vice president of marketing at Kineto Wireless in Milpitas, CA, but theyd get cheap Internet calls when they were on the Wi-Fi network. And by providing more reliable service indoors, the cellular carriers would be able to fully compete with traditional telephone companies…
And Kineto has developed a network controller that can be installed on a cellular-telephone companys network to bridge cellular and Wi-Fi. If a cell-phone user is indoors and near a Wi-Fi access point, his or her phone would sense the stronger Wi-Fi signal and tell the controller that it should route any incoming calls through the Internet, and ultimately through the local access point. Three carriers in the United States and Europe are now testing Kinetos technology; Kineto expects dual-mode service to be available this year.
Net2Phone, one of the oldest Internet telephony services in the US announced Voiceline, a VoIP service that is custom tailored for the cable operators. A prime example is St. Kitts lone cable provider, The Cable, which is going to roll out VoiceLine to provide their customers with a reliable VoIP service using their existing infrastructure and with minimal cap ex. Cable operators can also choose Net2Phones PacketCable Managed Telephony, a managed broadband telephony service. I have a feeling that Net2Phone and Vonage will be butting heads in their bid to capture the private label VoIP market.
New voice-over-IP (VoIP) phones promise free wireless calls while at work using special phones that let you run voice on Internet packets. But this technology is only now maturing, previously beset with long delays and poor quality phone calls. I tried out a VoIP phone from Clarisys recently, along with a Vonage SoftPhone on a laptop. The phone was wired into my laptop, but I could make and receive calls through my laptop anywhere on my wireless home network. The quality was decent and my phone conversations were nearly normal.