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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.
The 6301 will cost €230 ($322) and ship in fourth quarter: The phone, targeted for Europe, is the first model released since major UMA networks were unveiled in the UK, Italy, and the U.S., among other localities. Nokia made one of the first UMA phones, and I found it find, but rather limited. The 6301 seems to be about the same. The BlackBerry 8820 with Wi-Fi introduced by AT&T this week as an exclusive includes UMA among its extensive set of features—except that AT&T isn’t using UMA, so it’s wasted on the U.S. market.
Cisco hasn’t released all the source code they’re required to, says GPL Violations Project: The Linksys WIP300 iPhone has that moniker that’s landed Apple in hot water, but the GPL Violations Project is focused on the code that runs the phone. The GPL is one of several common software licenses that carries requirements that commercially distributed uses of fee-free code have modifications distributed to the developer community. (There’s a lot more nuance than that, too, but I’d like to be brief.)
While open-source projects are often described in the mainstream press—and sometimes by Microsoft—as forgoing all intellectual-property rights, that’s generally incorrect. The GPL and related licenses retain copyright and other rights to the various code developers, and offer a negotiation-free and fee-free license that carries with enforceable obligations for the use of the code.
A coordinator for the project made good progress with Cisco on other devices that needed better license compliance, but hasn’t made additional progress on the iPhone. Colleague Nancy Gohring writes that Cisco didn’t respond to a request for comments.
Update: Cisco acknowledges one issue they need to resolve; the researcher from the GPL Violations Project contents there are more.
Cisco’s Linksys division rebrands, extends its cordless and IP phones: Cisco had the iPhone trademark, so the likelihood of Apple offering an iPhone—which was an unlikely name for Apple in the first place—were dim. Linksys already had a few models of VoIP phones that work wirelessly as cordless phones connecting to adapters plugged into computers, or pure IP phones using Wi-Fi for network access. They rebranded their existing phones while adding two more models.
Relevant for VoWLAN News is the WIP320, an 802.11g Skype phone that has an estimated street price of $200 when it ships in the first quarter of 2007. Linksys already offers the WIP300 (minimally featured IP phone, $220) and the WIP330 (micro-browser-enabled IP phone with hotspot login rules available, $370).
These aren’t Wi-Fi phones, but more like traditional cordless models: The phones will use DECT, a long-standing European cordless phone standard, to connect to a base station that can route outbound calls over the Internet via Skype (using SkypeOut or Skype names) or through a landline. The phone can accept incoming Skype and landline calls as well. It will ship in December as model VOIP841; no pricing has been set.
These phones are distinct from Wi-Fi phones, which will likely be more complicated to setup and use; these are cordless phones that simply plug into existing wired connections. Because of the sheer normalcy of these phones, including the integration of landline calling in one handset, they’re more likely to achieve general consumer adoption.