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Unlike previous dual-mode phones, this model can switch during a call between network types: This form of seamless roaming is the holy grail, as it allows a user to roam within a Wi-Fi signal and switch to the cheaper service; or to avoid a call being interrupted when walk out of Wi-Fi range. This phone is designed for operators who want to offer UMA to their customers. UMA services will offer substantially reduced rates for calls make over unlicensed (generally Wi-Fi) spectrum as the call will be carried over backhaul that the carrier doesn’t have to pay for or has fixed costs to cover.
Motorola’s A910 offers UMA access via Wi-Fi, cell via GSM on BT Fusion: The network allows UMA on a home Wi-Fi network and via BT OpenZone locations. Those calls are charged at BT’s landline rates; other calls traverse the GSM network and are charged accordingly.
The latest version offers better voice quality, more standard Skype features found on computers: Version 2.0 works on more devices through Windows Mobile 5.0 support, and can work on 240-by-240–pixel screens. Several features found in the computer-based version of Skype now work on the handheld release, including voicemail, presence, and SkypeOut, according to the press release.
The two companies have created a system that combines an Atheros 802.11a/g radio and any of several Qualcomm CDMA chips: It’s a must for converged handsets that combine cellular and Wi-Fi functions that they’re as tightly integrated as possible to keep power consumption and costs low. Qualcomm thinks its EVDO trumps Wi-Fi for ubiquity, but they’re also fans of Wi-Fi for specific places (home, corporate campuses, etc.).
The semiconductor firm said its converged cellular/802.11g handset will be sold by a major operator in the U.S. soon: The handset relies in part on a partnership with Kineto (making the backend integration part for carriers) and networking giant Alcatel. This allows an end-to-end solution that’s technically coordinated for an operator to buy into. My guess? Cingular. They’ve made noises for a year about converged Wi-Fi/cell access and have extensive Wi-Fi operations as well as through parent AT&T (formerly SBC) a massive number of DSL customers to whom they have sold Wi-Fi gateways.