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A UK marketing director at Siemens says that two years of Wi-Fi-only mobile phones show that the market isn’t there: Of course, you know that I’d argue it’s really about the network, not the hardware. Wi-Fi phones without accompanying Wi-Fi hot spot plans and good Wi-Fi connection software (including corporate connectivity support, which isn’t hard to enable) are just toys, not tools. The Belkin Wi-Fi Phone is the only Wi-Fi-only phone that’s not a toy because it ties built-in Skype with Boingo Mobile for hotspot access. (At $180, it’s an expensive non-toy; add $9 per month for Boingo and $30 per year for unlimited US/Canada calling with Skype, and $60 per year for a real incoming phone number and voicemail.)
The director did say that combining 3G cell connectivity with the DECT cordless phone’s successor CAT-iq (cordless advanced technology for Internet and quality) could make a lot of sense, because CAT-iq uses the 1.9 GHz band, not the crowded 2.4 GHz band employed by Wi-Fi. (I’d argue here that 802.11n, when cheap enough and low power enough to put into phones will make efficient enough use of spectrum that that’s not really an issue.)
Siemens will release hybrid phones that use CAT-iq to make calls over landlines and the Internet via VoIP, and a gateway that can offer CAT-iq and Wi-Fi.