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Boingo, Broadcom partner to include Boingo software in Wi-Fi VoIP phones: Boingo received another shot of confidence in its method of aggregating access to tens of thousands of hotspots worldwide for a flat fee with Broadcom incorporating the Boingo software toolkit in its Wi-Fi phone chipset platform. Reducing coding effort vastly increases the likelihood that a manufacturer would partner with Boingo to provide access for its subscribers, or that a reseller or service provider would wind up working with Boingo because the phone already had the capability to tap into the Boingo network.
Cubic Telecom has a pretty killer SIM, but also Wi-Fi: David Pogue writes up the nearly-shipping Cubic Telecom phone for today’s New York Times. The Cubic phone is ehh; it’s a basic Pirelli model. What’s killer about it is that they’ve wired it to accept up to 50 numbers, and it can authenticate to GSM calling systems around the world with which Cubic has negotiated very low local per-minute rates. Rates are 15 cents per minute from line to line within the U.S., and rates 50 to 90 percent off roaming charges elsewhere, like 49 cents instead of $4.90 per minute from Russia to the U.S.
A Wi-Fi radio is also built in, and a $42 per month plan offers unlimited inbound calls over Wi-Fi, with outbound calls for a penny a minute. (There must be additional limits, like landline to cell calling, which is typically ruinously expensive even intra-country; I checked with the firm, and this is the case.) The monthly charge seems a little high, but I’m not aware of any other phone that offers Internet telephony, a roaming handset, and GSM built in. T-Mobile’s HotSpot@Home can work over Wi-Fi when you’re out of the country, but it’s not optimized for that, and I’ve heard about mixed experiences. T-Mobile also offers the typically high rates for international calling, even when using Wi-Fi to place the outbound call.
The phone works as a mobile callback system, placing the call through their network and then calling you back. There’s a delay while calls are connected, Pogue writes, and the quality is similar to that of pure VoIP calls. If you purchase local numbers in cities around the world, people in those cities can call you at no cost, ostensibly. Although I’d like so more details on that: mobile and landline calling is rarely a straightforward billing proposition outside the U.S.
Cubic will sell you the SIM independent of the phone, too. The phone will run $140; the SIM by itself $40. There are no monthly charges.
Update: Pogue found that the calling prices he was quoted were incorrect. There’s a long thread about how the company has dealt with pricing, how they were apparently giving Pogue prices in US cents that were in euro cents, and so on.
Siemens and Nokia want to ease handoffs between VoWLAN and GSM networks: It’s appealing to companies and operators alike to have a single handset that can work on a VoWLAN within a company and GSM when roaming. The two companies will work on providing seamless handoffs. The specific products that will be improved are Nokia’s popular E series of phones and Siemens’s MobileConnect server for fixed-mobile convergence. The E60 is compatible, as is a Windows Mobile 5 smartphone from Fujitsu-Siemens.
If you can move data over it, you’d better be able to test: AirMagnet is known for planning, testing, and monitoring wireless LAN networks, and their latest product logically extends that into voice. The VoFi Analyzer is designed to determine the performance and security of VoWLAN. It’s a new technology and thus existing tools need to be updated or new tools developed for the particular characteristics. What happens if 50 people associated with a couple APs on insufficient backhaul make calls at once? Does the system leak authentication data? And so on.
AirMagnet cites an Infonetics’ report that the market will grow to $3.7b for VoWLAN by 2009. That’s a lot of purchasing decisions that could go wrong. VoFi Analyzer works across the entire VoWLAN chain, from IP-PBX through the network to the phone. It’s not just a tester, but a monitoring tool for quality across an active system. The company scored with an early AT&T connection; that firm is testing the software.
The press release doesn’t mention it, but I expect that AirMagnet is working with VoWLAN systems and handset makers to have secret sauce (or even open protocols) inserted in those products to provide better reporting. Reporting often leads to improvements by tying in streams of performance data to systems that can act on it. A WLAN switch that can read VoIP service data might increase or decrease the power output of a given set of access points, or force associations of laptops to other APs, leaving a voice-heavy area preserved.