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New York Times writes about voice over Wi-Fi without mentioning UMA: Matt Richtel writes about the complexities and side effects of pushing voice minutes from cell networks to Wi-Fi networks. While he fails to use the magic words Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA), the standard for seamless handoff that now has an incomprehensible name within the 3GPP standards group, he walks through the complicated details of how using Wi-Fi hotspots or home networks will shift minutes around.
It’s complicated because part of the charm of VoWLAN is moving minutes from cell phones, where you pay in advance for minutes you may or may not use, to either a cheaper metered service or an unlimited service. This has odd implications. Cellular operators can benefit from offloading minutes but keeping customers loyal. T-Mobile is well positioned for this with 7,000 hotspots. Except that their concern, in this article, is poaching landline minutes, as they don’t offer landline service or DSL in this country.
EarthLink makes a brief appearance, talking about Wi-Fi only phones that will cost relatively little, come with unlimited usage plans, and work across all their networks.
The company is testing the service with 50 families near the polar circle in Oulu, Finland: Nokia is putting its cell/Wi-Fi roaming to the test in the bitter north. The service will reportedly use unlicensed mobile access (UMA), a standard for handling seamless handoff, accounting, and authentication for converged wireless phone use.
Four companies will release Wi-Fi-enabled phones that work with Skype with no extra configuration: However, the four phones from Belkin, Edge-Core, NetGear, and SMC won’t handle WPA Enterprise or hotspot authentication. The Belkin phones is listed on Skype’s Store for preorder at $190, and SMC’s at $300. While the ad copy says it works with free wireless networks, it’s more reasonable to say that it works with public networks that require no acceptance of usage terms and charge no fees. I have seen a trend towards free-with-a-click networks. The phones handles WEP, WPA, and WPA2, but only in the preshared key (PSK) mode for WPA.
This is Samsung’s first dual-mode effort: The SG-P200 uses GSM and 802.11b/g, with the ability to handle voice and data calls. The phone has been launched in Italy and will extend to other European countries “soon,” according to IDG News Service.
The mobile operating system Symbian, used in phones and other handhelds, will offer native Wi-Fi support: Version 9.3 will sport as part of an update support for Wi-Fi. This should make it easier to use VoIP over Wi-Fi without a developer or manufacturer having to integrate a separate network stack. Phones featuring this version of Symbian would probably appear at the beginning of 2007, according to this ZDNet article.
Several efforts are underway to insert Wi-Fi at the OS level into more operating systems, including Devicescape’s release of a no-fee open-source license for its Linux-based security and device driver stack.