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Dual-mode phones will rule the day: Wi-Fi-only phone models are unlikely to continue to be introduced, says a report from Juniper Research. While the report expects Wi-Fi handsets will become a $70b market by 2012, only two percent of those handsets will operate only on Wi-Fi networks. The rest will be dual-mode phones with cell and Wi-Fi.
Skyp has filed a petition with the FCC to force cell operators to allow the use of its software: The petition wants the FCC to enforce the 1968 Carterphone decision that required any non-harmful devices access to AT&T’s then-closed phone network. This broke AT&T’s monopoly on phone rental, among other changes. Skype wants the same privilege: They want cell customers to be able to run any non-harmful software.
The Journal looks at Unlicensed Mobile Access and IMS worldwide: The article paints a very fair picture of the quality and cost of UMA, and why it’s typically being used today (for better indoor coverage). There’s a nice description of the evolution of cellular towards IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem), and some notes about how people can make phone calls over Wi-Fi from some smartphones using third-party software, a potential challenge to both UMA and IMS’s voice side.
Interesting that BT acknowledges the cheapness of handling calls over Wi-Fi and broadband that the customer separately pays for: they offer four UMA minutes as the equivalent of one cell minute in their calling plans, which conforms to what I’ve been told about call completion costs (4 or 5 cents a minute for cell, 1 cent a minute for UMA/broadband).
Femotcells are mentioned briefly, but the Journal says their availability isn’t near-term.
The company’s option will allow existing GSM and 3G handsets to connect, with backhaul by broadband: Femtocells are an increasingly interesting option for improving in-home access. One strategy is dual-mode handsets that use Wi-Fi in the home for calls; the other is femtocells in which the existing GSM standard is used. In either case, backhaul is from customer-provided broadband. Ericsson’s system supports Wi-Fi and DSL for backhaul.
The largest independent enterprise VoWLAN firm purchase: Polycom is buying SpectraLink, a veteran player in voice calling over Wi-Fi in enterprises that helped set and shape many standards used to ensure call quality in those busy environments. The The deal is $220m in cash net of cash on hand and debt, or $11.75 per share, a huge premium over the company’s end-of-day closing stock price. SpectraLink’s earnings were also announced: pro forma $145m for fourth quarter 2006. Their earnings have been quite low, which explains the relatively low stock price and revenue-to-purchase-price ratio.
While Cisco and other enormous firms are in this space, Polycom is the largest independent firm offering unified messaging and collaborative media products. That’s a sort of large, vague space, but it means running applications and voice over IP networks with seamless access regardless of device, system, or location.
Two round-ups of VoIP options, some of which include Wi-Fi: InformationWeek offers an exhaustive look at VoIP calling, including round up the services, the handsets, and the technologies, including UMA (unlicensed mobile access) via T-Mobile. David Pogue at the NY Times focuses on long-distance calling, and looks at the most popular and convenient options.