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BT's Converged Wi-Fi/Cell Phone

CmdrTaco posted more than 9 years ago | from the well-kinda-anyway dept.

Wireless Networking 88

judgecorp writes "BT has been talking for more than a year about "Bluephone" - a cellphone that roams to a wireless network, when you are in the house. Just when we thought it was all hype and vapour, BT is revealing more details. Good news - it will move to Wi-Fi, when Wi-Fi handsets are cheap and good. The first version will still use Bluetooth, because Bluetooth works. Bad news - it's not a SIP phone, and therefore not really a converged phone. It doesn't roam calls onto the Internet, or even onto the landline, where they would be cheaper. Wi-Fi or Bluetooth is just an alternative for the first few feet of the call. Takes a few calls off the cell network, but doesn't do a lot for the user, apart from giving you just one phone to lose."

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first posts are for losers (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11495535)

second post is for teh win!

Re:first posts are for losers (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11495546)

I may be a talentless hack, but YOU FAIL IT! I get second post!

!!!11!!1111onehundredandeleven!!11!!111bbqkthx

Re:first posts are for losers (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11495552)

unfortunately you got the first post, sorry loser.

To JERK (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11495549)

Perchance to SPURT. SUCK IT TACO, while I LIFT WEIGHTS and talk to my GIRLFRIEND.

Lifting weights? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11495601)

So, basically you pick up heavy things......then you put them down again. Sounds pretty fulfilling.

Re:To JERK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11496973)

his lifting weights = doughnut to mouth

his girlfriend = his hand (talk to the hand)

A key point (5, Insightful)

codesurfer (786910) | more than 9 years ago | (#11495557)

From TFA
At the most basic level, voice over Wi-Fi treats voice as just another kind of data. It runs voice over IP and uses SIP addresses to route calls across the Internet. This is anathema to the cell networks, who have no intention of allowing voice over IP. For them, data is a means to squeeze more revenue from reluctant customers, not a means to let customers get voice services for less money.

Sadly this has always been one of the major stumbling blocks, and I'm not sure there is a viable solution in sight.

Re:A key point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11495649)

The people band together and have our representatives break this backwards narrowthinking amber-encrusted mentality by forcing modernization upon the paralyzed companies?

Re:A key point (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11495681)

Yes. But I think we need to think outside the box make sure that our ameliorated global customer loyalty is properly supplemented by world-class customer-driven open-architected fault-tolerant conglomeration.

Combined with horizontal upward-trending inheritance, this could really be a future-proofed keenly defined core technology!

Re:A key point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11495710)

That will never be implementable. Syngery is a prerequisite for turnkey over the counter user-friendly enhacements, lack syngery and you lack feasibility.

Re:A key point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11495731)

Stop ruining my slogans with your logic!

Re:A key point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11495817)

Government can be the solution to problems sometimes.

Re:A key point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11495836)

lol. what?

Re:A key point (2, Funny)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 9 years ago | (#11495868)

Don't forget to account for shifting paradigms.

Re:A key point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11496035)

paradigms are overpriced at 25 cents.

Re:A key point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11496274)

But will it scale adequately to meet my demands for an enterprise solution ?

Re:A key point (2, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 9 years ago | (#11495744)

you can voice-over ip over cellular data connections... depending on what kind of connections your provider allows, of course.

under most billings it makes no sense, of course. but think of it long and hard - would it make any sense if it was _really_ cheaper to talk over the data connection instead of the 'voice' connection(that goes in packets anyhow) of the phone? the operator would always have the access to the way to offer the voice over their network the cheapest, most effective, way.

of course with the kind of 'plans' in most areas of word that are most of the time also part payments for the device there's all kinds of funky and crazy (marketing made) holes/idiocies in what costs what.

Re:A key point (2, Insightful)

FrankHaynes (467244) | more than 9 years ago | (#11495813)

I asked a buddy who works in the field for A Major U.S. Cell Carrier and when we were discussing their EV-DO data network, I speculated that it would be cool to say hasta la vista, baby! to all wireline providers, get a data+phone, and run my home Internet access AND VoIP all over that single "cell" phone.

He countered by stating that they sell a device that uses only their SIM card and has no viable way to get to it from the outside such as Bluetooth, thus preventing my evil plan from cutting into their voice revenue stream.

I guess they have beaten me to the punch on that one.

Notwithstanding their stance, I don't see how John Q. Homeuser out there meshing together a neighborhood's WiFi hotspots is going to be a worthwhile solution once the carriers have sufficient deployment of their wireless data networks. Who will need DSL or cable Internet service? Who will need landline service (if you can tolerate occasional service dropouts)? You will be able to get it all from your wireless carrier at market rates and take it pretty much anywhere, without having to worry if you're affiliating with some WiFi hotspot that might be problematic or whether you can even find a hotspot at all.

OK, I've written too much. I apologize. But, I just switched to Sanka today so, have a heart.

Re:A key point (1)

cooley (261024) | more than 9 years ago | (#11495981)

Holy crap, isn't Sanka decaf? How are you holding up, Frank?

I'd be weeping, drooling, and making little gurgling sounds by midway through my first day on decaf.

Best of luck to you, although I have no idea why you'd undertake such a thing.

As for why folks would want wired bandwidth; I suspect you're correct that when Wi-fi is in more places, it won't be necessary for the average user to have any sort of wired connection to the outside; especially if it's cellular-like (by that I mean cellular-type signal quality distance).

Of course, you'll likely have a wired option (Like IP over power from your electric company) with better reliabilty and faster speed, I'm guessing.

That said, I'm totally with ya, man. I'm ready to shed my telco, cable TV, and DSL and just have IP over power and my cell phone. Until I get unlimited minutes on my cell phone, I'd probably also use VoIP for awhile.

Re:A key point (1)

Twanfox (185252) | more than 9 years ago | (#11496976)

If you know networking, consider that WiFi is like using a hub. The more users you have in the area, the worse your signal gets because of all the cross-communication and chatter from the associated endpoints. Consider that WiFi is also broadcasting to everyone, even those that are not using the network, so security can be iffy at best. It also must deal with interference (nature, badly tuned transmitters, etc) which can significantly degrade performance.

Compare that to wired communications. Point to Point on a switched network (you get only traffic that the switch has no clue where to send, or for you) means you channel is generally clean and open any time you want it. It is secure, in that it requires physical access to the network in order to tap into it (what's that wire running out the patio door, dear?). It can also be less prone (shielded cables) or immune (fiber) to EMF interferance, something to consider in places where a lot of EMF is generated.

While wireless communications may be in the future, there will always be a place for wired communications.

Re:A key point (1)

cooley (261024) | more than 9 years ago | (#11497986)

Agreed, and well-put. Wired communication will not go away in the forseeable future.

I do believe, tho, that sooner rather than later we'll come up with some better Wi-Fi security, signal strength, and hopefully less "chatty" ways in which to make and keep a connection.

I'll still be extremely excited when Wi-Fi access becomes reasonably ubiquitous, however. That'll be rocking.

Re:A key point (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 9 years ago | (#11500009)

Wired communication will not go away in the forseeable future

Perhaps not, but it will cease to be the default after a while. Copper will be sold for it's relative security, perceived or not.

Re:A key point (1)

cooley (261024) | more than 9 years ago | (#11505180)

Probably. Same goes for its reliability. I think some folks will continue to use it for that as well, perceived or not.

Re:A key point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11496006)

except wtf are you talking about.
EV-DO is only offered on CDMA networks by Verizon and Sprint. They are not GSM. They do not have SIM cards for their phones.

You can get an EV-DO phone from verizon or a data card, then connect to your PC and run VOIP and Internet over it for $80 a month unlimited.

whats the deal?

Re:A key point (1)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | more than 9 years ago | (#11499220)

The missing link could be created by some enterprising start-up. What is missing is an attachment to a cell phone, that would look at surrounding wifi connections and then see if you have access rights (a stored login) and if not, then it would dial the traditional cell phone. I don't think any of the traditional cell phone manufacturers would make this--they are too embedded with the communications providers. But you could adapt the "smarts" around the phone and intercept the receivers.

This would probably start as a geek hobby device that slash-dotters would use to void their warrantees. ;-)

Re:A key point (1)

Invisible Agent (412805) | more than 9 years ago | (#11499969)

"This is anathema to the cell networks, who have no intention of allowing voice over IP. For them, data is a means to squeeze more revenue from reluctant customers, not a means to let customers get voice services for less money."

While this is still somewhat true today, all carriers are moving to unlimited plans in-network, and practically unlimited plans otherwise (national tarrifs aside). Data traffic is already covered by bucket or unlimited plans, so I'm not really sure the operators are that worried.

The real incremental revenue source for carriers today is transactional stuff - like $3 "truetones".

UMA = 'Unlicensed Mobile Access' (1)

avjt (780022) | more than 9 years ago | (#11500068)

This isn't SIP, but it is VoIP all right. This is VoIP for the cell-co's benefit, not (directly) yours.

If you RTFA, you'll find references to UMA. That is 'Unlicensed Mobile Access'.

The idea in UMA is to route your voice calls from the GSM mobile-switch, over the internet, over your WiFi/BlueTooth Access Point, and in to your phone -- when you are within range of any such access point which lets you in.

As compared to GSM/DECT combo solutions, what you get here is the hand-off capability -- you can start a call out on the street corner, where your call is routed over the neighbourhood cell-tower. You continue talking as you walk into your home (or work-place), your phone detects that it can now connect to the Internet over a WiFi/BlueTooth network, and your call gets switched through it -- VoIP packets and all.

The key component here is something called the 'Unlicensed Network Controller' (UNC) that is accessible (securely) to the mobile over the Internet, and 'pretends' to be a base station controller to the mobile switch.

What the cell-cos gain from this -- something that is effectively a pico-cell installed & maintained by you -- meaning less congestion on the licensed frequencies. Also means that you continue to use their service (their SIM card, their phone number) indoors, even where the cellular coverage is iffy.

If we see proliferation of wireline broadband & semi-broadband to homes, by companies that are not traditional tel-cos, this could be a killer advantage for cell-cos someday.

Some market report seems to be quoting a figure of 55 million by 2010, but with a 2+ billion telephones (wireline & cell) today, this could be a serious underestimate.

cisco (2, Informative)

greechneb (574646) | more than 9 years ago | (#11495561)

I know cisco is working hard on this too. A cisco show I recently attended said that they are planning on having a similar product out sometime that will switch from cell to your phone system when you are within range. I thought their target date was sometime this year.

Re:cisco (1)

paule9984673 (547932) | more than 9 years ago | (#11495702)

With wireless access becoming more widespread why not drop the GSM part altogether like this product [zyxel.com] ?

Re:cisco (1)

pv2b (231846) | more than 9 years ago | (#11495789)

Because the Zyxel Prestige 2000W appears to suck [slacker.com] .

I haven't read about the Cisco phones, but they're priced even higher -- unreasonably high compared to a simple DECT phone and a Quicknet Internet PhoneJack card [quicknet.net] . Although I haven't tried this either, but it looks pretty sweet.

The idea of a Zyxel Prestige 2000W was pretty cool though, and I wish it were good. The idea is cool, and I actually considered it instead of a DECT cordless myself. But that review pretty much put me off.

Re:cisco (1)

elgaard (81259) | more than 9 years ago | (#11496738)

I does not exactly suck.
I use a firmware one version later than in the review.

If you just want a wireless phone (or especially if you want more than one) at home then get a DECT phone and an adapter (E.g. the Linksys or HandyTone from http://sipphone.com/adapters/). I would never buy a card that would only work when my computer was on.

But if you want an internet phone that you can bring to work, friends, cafes etc, then the Zyxel/WSIP is a good deal.

Re:cisco (1)

paule9984673 (547932) | more than 9 years ago | (#11497746)

I have a 2000W and I don't think it sucks (I have the latest firmware). I have the feeling, however, that the true potential of such a device is not to just connect to your personal WiFi station but to log in from almost everywhere once WiFi has become a commodity. Of course, such widespread availability of WiFi hotspots might not happen anytime soon but the potential is there.

Not going to make a difference... (2, Interesting)

chris09876 (643289) | more than 9 years ago | (#11495565)

This isn't going to be a replacement for cell phones. I don't think the bluetooth capability is that much of a benefit. Needing the base station really limits where you can use it. They did say that they'd have a WiFi version in 2006 though... that has potential :) Cell + data coverage is just unnecessarily expensive.

Re:Not going to make a difference... (2, Insightful)

chris09876 (643289) | more than 9 years ago | (#11495591)

I just re-read that, and it said even in 2006, their WiFi model WON'T be able to do VoIP... what's the point? It sounds like they're going to miss out on all the potential that exists with the internet and VoIP

Re:Not going to make a difference... (2, Informative)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 9 years ago | (#11496283)

There's virtually no VOIP in the UK so why would they bother?

There are some things holding back takeup:

1. VOIP is more expensive to call out than 3rd party analogue (eg. call18866)
2. VOIP uses premium rate number for incoming calls so unless you hate all your friends you've got to have an analogue/mobile anyway.
3. VOIP runs over DSL - which requires a voice line, so you end up paying rental twice (three times if you count the DSL).
4. You can't buy VOIP retail in this country, and nobody except a few slashdot geeks have even heard of it (there are lots of 'digital' phones but they're all DECT not SIP).

Re:Not going to make a difference... (2, Informative)

sgt101 (120604) | more than 9 years ago | (#11496407)

unless you get BT communicator?

http://www.bt.com/btcommunicator/index.jsp?BV_Se ss ionID=@@@@0367275130.1106859812@@@@&BV_EngineID=cc cdadddjlfjdhlcflgcefkdffndfkk.0

hmmmm took me 10 minutes to find on BT.com... still free calls for a month!

gee....

Re:Not going to make a difference... (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 9 years ago | (#11499605)

Informative? It's a Yahoo messenger client!!!

This has nothing to do with VOIP.

Re:Not going to make a difference... (1)

Cato (8296) | more than 9 years ago | (#11501693)

Yes, one that also includes VoIP outbound to PSTN lines. Not a great VoIP solution but it is VoIP.

Re:Not going to make a difference... (1)

elgaard (81259) | more than 9 years ago | (#11496821)

>2. VOIP uses premium rate number for incoming calls so unless you hate
>all your friends you've got to have an analogue/mobile anyway.

Is it cheaper to call mobile phones than VoIP phones?
Your friend can get their own SIP-phone and call you free.

>3. VOIP runs over DSL - which requires a voice line, so you end up
>paying rental twice (three times if you count the DSL).

Re:Not going to make a difference... (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 9 years ago | (#11499618)

Yes it is - In this country we get free call minutes on mobiles that cover mobile->mobile calls.

Most VOIP providers are 0836 numbers (45p/minute) which are more expensive than mobile phones.

TBH mobile has killed home VOIP anyway. Hardly anyone has landlines any more (I only have one because I need it for DSL), and mobile is really convenient, plus everyone has it.

Re:Not going to make a difference... (1)

Cato (8296) | more than 9 years ago | (#11501716)

Almost everything you say here is wrong or misleading...

Some mobile packages include free mobile to mobile calls, up to N minutes per month at least, but many don't (probably the majority of low end packages anyway).

See my other post - most VoIP providers that I've seen (BT, Vonage and Gossiptel) do NOT require premium rate.

Mobiles are very convenient and people with plenty of cash or who make shorter phone calls tend to use them all the time. However, the cost and health concerns (recently in the press) mean that VoIP is still quite interesting to home phones. Telecoms companies are investing a lot in VoIP for home, so it's just a touch premature to write off VoIP.

'Hardly anyone has landlines anymore' is just rubbish - perhaps in a very small circle of people switching to mobiles, but not for the vast majority of people in the real world who, surprisingly enough, do still have land lines...

It's early days for VoIP here, but your view on it is unusually pessimistic, perhaps because you signed up early and got burnt by a bad deal as mentioned in your other post.

Re:Not going to make a difference... (1)

Cato (8296) | more than 9 years ago | (#11498436)

VoIP is developing but you are way off the mark except for point 1.

1. SkypeOut works out very close to the cost of 18866, who are one of the cheapest 3rd party analogue providers. IMO the real reason to get VoIP is (a) cheap 2nd or 3rd line and (b) ultimately to dump BT line rental. The UK Post Office is getting into line rental so perhaps costs for that will drop too. In the long term you might just have a cheaper WiMax connection and no landline at all.

2. VoIP providers such as BT, Vonage UK and Gossiptel do NOT require a premium rate number for incoming VoIP calls in the UK. Stop spreading misinformation.

3. See 1.

4. There are lots of people selling VoIP off the Web - it's still early days but since most non-geeks book holidays and buy many other things on the Web, lack of a retail channel isn't an obstacle at this stage in the development of the VoIP market.

Another reason to get VoIP is teleworking - I have VoIP at work and home, so while I'm working from home I have a work extension through a softphone on my laptop.

Re:Not going to make a difference... (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 9 years ago | (#11499583)

1. SypeOut is *still* more expensive. Plus you *can't* get cheaper BT line rental if you have an ADSL line. Skype is also v.low quality and not true VOIP - you can't plug an ordinary phone into an adapter.

2. Yes they do. Just read up on it instead of reading the first page of all thse sites and guessing. The cheapest you can get (if you pay enough in rental to cover the calls to BT) is 0845 which is *not* local it's lo_call, which is a marketing scam (it cost around double the local call rate and you don't get any free minutes). Most of them have 0836 at around 45p/minute. Believe me, I've tried every single one of them (except BT, which has astranomical charges in both directions.. you'd be mad to pay that).

3. As I said You are *still* paying 2-3 line rentals. You can't get around that.

4. I've had a VOIP system for around a year now. To date I've had zero calls across it. I know of *nobody* - even geeks - outside slashdot who is even considering it.. I'm close to dumping it myself as a failed experiment.

VOIP has *no* reason to want it. There are no extra feature, other than the cheapest grandstream phones will set you back £50 *per phone* - an amount you could get a good quality DECT phone with SMS for. A good cisco is £200+. It's just a geek curiosity.

To work the pricess have to fall *a lot* - phones shouldn't be more than £10 for a basic model. Incoming calls must be on your existing landline number, no premium rate crap, and outgoing calls must be as cheap or cheaper than the cheap analogue outgoing calls. I believe this is happening to an extent in the US so you're finding people using it.

Re:Not going to make a difference... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11499921)

one thing voip can be usefull for if you find a suitable provider is calling from other places to the USA.

just need to find a plan based in your target country that accepts foreign subscribers.

Re:Not going to make a difference... (1)

Cato (8296) | more than 9 years ago | (#11501665)

1. I agree Skype is still slightly more expensive (as in my original post). Skype is very high quality generally, some think it's better than PSTN because of its frequency range.

2. Let's take Vonage UK as an example (others such as Gossiptel are similar). They offer the following area codes for no extra fee, you just choose one when signing up:

0121 Birmingham
0131 Edinburgh
0141 Glasgow
0151 Liverpool
0161 Manchester
01914 Newcastle
020 London (Central)
020 London (Greater)
02380 Southampton
02392 Portsmouth
024 Coventry
02891 Bangor Co Down
029 Cardiff

Try reading the sites yourself before you accuse me of not doing so...

3. You pay one line rental to BT, then you pay the next 1-2 'line rentals' to the VoIP company - these are much cheaper than a new BT line. If you are really on a budget, use Skype or SIP on a PC and get your friends to use it too, i.e. stay off PSTN, and you don't pay any extra line rentals.

4. First you said VoIP was not retail, which I agreed with. Now you are saying you've had no calls on VoIP - if you have premium rate or lo-call inbound I can see that would limit things, but why not have people call you via SIP (off PSTN) if they are that price sensitive?

Getting VoIP phones down to £10 is unlikely - even PSTN phones are rarely that cheap, and most people want cordless (DECT) these days which is more expensive. Fortunately you can just plug in the old PSTN phones to a VoIP router.

Number portability is something that needs to come, but until you can get rid of the line rental you might as well keep the old number on PSTN anyway for incoming calls and 999 emergency calls outbound (which I'm not convinced VoIP providers have addressed.)

Wasn't this what PCS was supposed to be? (2, Informative)

dalrympm (633053) | more than 9 years ago | (#11495580)

I thought a while back when PCS was first coming out that it was supposed to stand for "Personal Communication Service" and it was going to offer a way to hook up to your home phone system. Basically when you were at home you would be connected through your land line like a normal portable phone and then you would roam onto the network when you were away from home.

I still can't see the purpose of this unless you get bad reception from home.

Re:Wasn't this what PCS was supposed to be? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11496261)

I thought that PCS was just an alternative name under which to market GSM in the US, where the "Global" part of the abbreviation might have negative connotations :-)

There's just no point without wifi (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11495585)

BT is not nearly ubiquitous enough and doesn't have enough range. Of course, I'm already holding a 1.9GHz transmitter up to my head, I'm not sure I really want to move up to 2.4GHz, but the point is that bluetooth isn't readily available for free all over the world like wifi.

Re:There's just no point without wifi (2, Informative)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 9 years ago | (#11495807)

The frequency of the transmitter isn't what you should be worried about; the power is. The transmitter in a cellphone is a lot more powerful than a bluetooth or wifi transmitter (or an ordinary cordless phone). If cellphones used transmitters as weak as those used for bluetooth, there'd need to be a dozen cell towers on every block.

Actually Bluetooth Can Be Quite Good For This (2, Informative)

occamboy (583175) | more than 9 years ago | (#11496784)

If they use Class 1 Bluetooth (100mW), it has great range: we use it and can count on >50 meters indoors in real-world conditions (walls, steel beams, and so forth). It uses frequency hopping, making it even more robust than WiFi at half the power consumption or less. Bandwidth is much lower than WiFi, but plenty for voice.

Most folks are familiar with Class 2 or Class 3 Bluetooth (2.5mW and 1mW respectively, I think) designed for cell phone accessories and so forth, which are very short-range, and would stink for this application.

Wifi is an awful battery hog.

Re:Actually Bluetooth Can Be Quite Good For This (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11514170)

But the quality of connection possible is not the most important factor... The availability is. It might be fine for replacing your home phone - a bt cellphone could make voip calls when you're at home. That's useful and will sell, but not as well as one which can make calls from any open wifi Ap.

newsflash.. (3, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 9 years ago | (#11495616)

..with right drivers(I don't know about xp's own) you can use bluetooth handsfrees to talk on whatever VOIP you want.

so.. this is pretty weak.

more than that. there's a fundamental problem over here.. once you make those wifi networks the operators will just lower prices.. so it's kind of worth it and kind of not because you'll never make wifi as good/effective(that means 'cheap') for large amounts of voice users like cellular networks.

(my cellular bills aren't really killing me anyhow, not enough to even bother with skype most of the time)

Re:newsflash.. (1)

White Roses (211207) | more than 9 years ago | (#11495776)

Good point. I actually used a little bluetooth earset (it's not really a headset, since it all fits on one ear) with my PowerBook last evening, just to see if it would work. It was passable. The sound quality was a little iffy, but that may be due to the earset. Skype worked fine, and speech control worked as well, though I don't generally use that. I forget what kind it was . . . it was made for use with cell phones primarily. Brand name started with a C.

Uh? What's the point? (2, Informative)

pv2b (231846) | more than 9 years ago | (#11495617)

"Bad news - it's not a SIP phone, and therefore not really a converged phone. It doesn't roam calls onto the Internet, or even onto the landline, where they would be cheaper. Wi-Fi or Bluetooth is just an alternative for the first few feet of the call. Takes a few calls off the cell network, but doesn't do a lot for the user, apart from giving you just one phone to lose."

Okay... how is this better than a combined GSM/DECT phone? (They used to make them anyway, do they still?)

I could see the general idea useful in an office which already has a 802.11b/g infrastructure in place to route calls to. But this device doesn't really seem to be aimed at that market. But that could actually be pretty cool if they got some working QoS going and SIP to connect to the central office telephone switch. But this doesn't seem to be it.

Although a real combined 802.11g SIP phone and GSM might just be useful in that respect.

I use a Cisco Wi-Fi cellphone everyday (2, Interesting)

bbeebe (661968) | more than 9 years ago | (#11495632)

I work in IT for a large (35 sites) K-12 campus. We have Wi-Fi spanning most of the area and I use a Cisco 7920 [cisco.com] to make/receive calls anywhere, internal and external.

Granted we're running Call Manager for this to work, but it's pretty sweet none the less.

Re:I use a Cisco Wi-Fi cellphone everyday (1)

BridgeBum (11413) | more than 9 years ago | (#11495793)

From your own link to the Cisco site, doesn't that phone only support Skinny and not SIP?

For the uninitiated: Skinny is a proprietary Cisco protocol which serves many of the same functions as SIP, although I believe it does offer some performance enhancements when compared to SIP. The Cisco CallMangers are their PBX of sorts, which route calls to IP addresses, can integrate with traditional PBXes, etc.

Re:I use a Cisco Wi-Fi cellphone everyday (1)

bbeebe (661968) | more than 9 years ago | (#11496124)

I believe that is correct. Though it's rather expensive, I've been very happy with the features and performance it has provided. I've used a 7960 [cisco.com] at my desk for a while now and my cellphone shares the exact same profile. All my extensions, missed calls, received calls, voicemail, speed dials, etc are shared between the 2 no matter where I am in the township.

Explain this to a dummy, please. (1)

invenustus (56481) | more than 9 years ago | (#11495656)

I read the article, and I don't get it.

Bluephone calls use the GSM network. When they transfer a call to use the Bluetooth link, they just transfer the first few yards of that call.

So your phone is communicating with a Bluetooth base station in your house. How is the base station communicating with the world? The Slashdot blurb says, "It doesn't roam calls onto the Internet, or even onto the landline, where they would be cheaper." What does that leave?

Is the Bluetooth base station communicating with a GSM tower over the air the same way phones do? If so, what are you gaining? Aren't you using the same amount of GSM bandwidth as before, plus some Bluetooth bandwidth?

Re:Explain this to a dummy, please. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11495709)

It's got Bluetooth or WiFi and something Internet-related [goat.cx] ... eh... which will make it mucho buzzword-compliant for all the cool kids with disposable income.

Re:Explain this to a dummy, please. (1)

sgt101 (120604) | more than 9 years ago | (#11496306)

What the editorial meant (I think) is that the system doesn't *roam* between landline basestations. I think it does route calls that you make in your house or office into your landline via a voip infrastructure - so you can use all your saved numbers on your cell phone while sitting and watching TV!

I think that the big bonus is for corporate customers who are often in different offices of their multi national super company, but only reachable by their cell. Using this kind of system they'll get a big cost reduction, which right now is pretty welcome.

What about this is new? (2, Informative)

quinxy (788909) | more than 9 years ago | (#11495754)

I may be missing something, but...

My Siemens SX 66 (HTC Blue Angel) does cell/SIP/Skype/etc. now via 802.11/bluetooth/etc. A number of other phones (other incarnations of the HTC Blue Angel as well as the HP 6315) can do all this stuff, too.

And, if you're looking for this sort of thing without the cell phone, there are existing products for that, including the KW2000 IP Connection WiFi Netphone [pcconnection.com] .

Q

no bennefit except less cancer (1)

ToadMan8 (521480) | more than 9 years ago | (#11495781)

The bluetooth/wifi signals are far less powerful than your average cell signal - this makes using it with wifi at home or office awesome, especially for people like me who have no home phone and spend thousands of minutes a month on the phone. It would reduce potentially harmful cell mutation and with less power used to transmit it would get better battery life. Having the phone roam to using the Internet to make calls is a natural progression, and it'll rule.

Re:no bennefit except less cancer (1)

quinxy (788909) | more than 9 years ago | (#11495835)

How much less cancer?

I tried to find studies on this, but googling didn't produce much that seemed helpful. I was trying to find out the SAR values for using a WiFi phone, presumably it's not regulated in that way, so no one produces much data on it. But does anyone know?

Also, on a related note, GPRS, let's say I use my converged phone to be always-on, connected to IM/etc. How much of a dose am I getting all the time compared to talking on a call? Is having GPRS on all the time equivalent to 100% of the radiation of a call? 50%? 25%? I would assume if you're not saturating the connection it's not 100%, but no idea how to estimate whether using the always on nature of converged phones is a huge danger or no big deal.

Q

Re:no bennefit except less cancer (1)

pv2b (231846) | more than 9 years ago | (#11495873)

Assuming for a moment that cell phones cause cancer -- something of which I'm sceptical to say the least.

I think the maximum legal output is somewhere around +15 to +20 dBm in the 2.4 GHz ISM band which is somewhere around 30 to 100 mW.

Which is a little lower than the maximum power of 2 W (IIRC another figured pulled from my ass here, but I think it's pretty accurate) which a GSM phone can put out legally.

Now, in the city, most GSM phones will cut back on the power anyway to save the battery. But 2000 mW is still a lot of power compared to 30 mW or so.

Re:no bennefit except less cancer (1)

pv2b (231846) | more than 9 years ago | (#11495924)

I should probably add that you can get quite a distance at 100 mW. You'd be surprised how many 2 m / 70 cm amateur radio repeaters you can use semi-comfortably with one of those "tiny" FM handhelds.

Then again 144 MHz and 430 MHz aren't quite 900 MHz, 1800 MHz or 2400 MHz, but still...

I want a WiFi phone! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11495787)

Two of my friends have WiFi phones already. They are the coolest thing I've seen in a long time and especially if you live in the city where there are APs at every corner they are just awesome. I want one ASAP!

Future Fight (1)

digatle (666919) | more than 9 years ago | (#11495847)

I'm not sure if this marriage between Wi-Fi and Cellular will be one to last for the ages. I see an direct link between corporations fighting over communication battle lines (Wi-Fi = Open Source and Cellular = Big Business). Big Business would start being your Wi-Fi carrier of VoIP rather than companies like Vonage. This will be a very bloody battle.....

Re:Future Fight (1)

nzkbuk (773506) | more than 9 years ago | (#11500162)

I think in the business world the cellular carriers would should be all over this (though it will probably end up being similar to the RIAA / MPAA missing the indicators).

Already a bunch of businesses of all sizes are starting to use SIP / VOIP. Some with external providers like Vonage, some with their own VOIP PBX.

Now lets say for the ones that have their own PBX call comes in, while user is in the office it goes over the local wi-fi to the phone. When that phone leaves the office the call is routed to the cellular provider.

Ofcourse the setup could be the other way, call comes into cellular provider who routes the call to the customers office, or to the regular cell phone nodes.

The cellular companies have a huge advantage of having alot of the infrastructure (cell phone nodes) in place already.

Re:Future Fight (1)

digatle (666919) | more than 9 years ago | (#11500227)

But that's my exact arguement. Where does the Wi-Fi end and the carrier begin? I wouldn't be surprised if external providers like Vonage merge with wireless companies for this very reason.

testing 1 2 3 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11495852)

stesestingf 123

Sounds good to me (1)

Damek (515688) | more than 9 years ago | (#11495860)

I won't be buying one, but it sounds like a good idea and a good experiment. Heck, just a couple years ago I got my first cell phone - a basic job with a basic, basic plan. Cheap, worked like a charm. The same features existed 10 years previously, but were more expensive, difficult, etc. So I love hearing about new ideas and gadgets like this, because I know it means about 10 years down the line they'll be ready for primetime, ubiquitous, and they'll make my life easier.

Motorola (1)

akira69 (621573) | more than 9 years ago | (#11495901)

I've seen working versions of these from Motorola. Don't ask me the model number though. Is this new news or am I missing something? The Motorola phone auto switches to WiFi in the building, then it's Cingular service outside. I saw it, and played with a working version about a year ago.

Current Possibilities (1)

sirwnstn (848727) | more than 9 years ago | (#11495955)

Probably old news, but the guys who made Skype made a linux and PocketPC version. So many people already use Skype to talk to each other over IP for free. One could use a PocketPC device and Skype as a WiFi phone very easily. Battery power stinks for PPC's right now, but when they get better, I think the cell phone companies will start to worry then.

Re:Current Possibilities (1)

quinxy (788909) | more than 9 years ago | (#11496033)

And don't forget about the SIP software for Pocket PCs, including X-Pro for Pocket PC [xten.com] (you can still find their 'lite' version on freeware sites).

Power requirements for Wi-Fi and GSM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11496223)

I wonder which mobile devices are less power hungry for voice transmitting. Wi-Fi enabled PDAs or GSM cellphones?

In China... (1)

ThreeDayMonk (673466) | more than 9 years ago | (#11496617)

I met a group of engineers on the overnight train from Beijing to Shanghai who were setting up a test of a prototype in-train wireless network (802.11b) service in the restaurant car. Seing my notebook, they asked me to join in on the test. The system used multiple mobile connections (GSM and CDMA).

One of them was using a small PocketPC device with wireless and Skype quite extensively as a mobile phone, and reported that it worked reasonably well. He even managed to use it over the prototype train network.

BT = British Tel., Bluetooth, BitTorrent, musician (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11496169)

(Techno musician, that is.)

Whoever _this_ "BT" is, they should know that referring to themselves as "BT" (as they do in the linked article and on their own site) is not going to help their agenda of distinguishing who the fuck they are and what their technology does. I wonder who their marketing guys are.

Some facts (2, Informative)

ThreeDayMonk (673466) | more than 9 years ago | (#11496482)

British Telecom has existed as a separate privatised entity since 1981, and styled itself as just BT since 1991.

BT's debut album was released in 1995.

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group was formally announced in 1999.

BitTorrent was introduced to the world in 2002.

There are plenty of good reasons to knock BT the telecom company - I'm a bitter former customer! - but the name isn't one of them.

Why want wi-fi? (1)

jwr (20994) | more than 9 years ago | (#11496279)

I don't get it. Why do people care about Wi-Fi so much? Do you really want your phone to consume more power and require configuration, a running DHCP server, etc?

Bluetooth was designed for a reason, wi-fi is different. They serve different purposes.

I want my own microcell/network (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 9 years ago | (#11496485)

How about a $200 box that is a GSM cell plugged into the ethernet network. I can then roam into it, and prevent others to roam. So then I can use my 'cell/network' to route all calls via the net or LLine. How hard could it be to make a 200feet wide area micro cell thats $200?

Theres a bigger picture here..... (1)

Ion Berkley (35404) | more than 9 years ago | (#11496536)

Obviously consumers want free calls, but thats of no interest to the cell companies. For many years however the wireless companies have struggled with a growing problem of network capacity, and wanting to offer a local wireless loop to compete with the wireline. There are many teams at big and small companies working on the problem. Essentially what they ideally would like to do is place a basestation (what they tend to call a picocell) in your home or buisness. It has very limited range, and that is deliberate, they only have so much RF spectrum so to increase capacity there must be more cells and they must therefore have less physical coverage area. Bear in mind that there is no reason why this is only for your benefit, it can offer service to anyone.
The challenge is to make it "friendly" to the rest of the cell network. Traditional cells are planned in great detail and tested, they must offer no service gaps and conflicitingly must not range to far so that they don't interfere with other nearby cells. Thus their power, position, and frequency usage is carefully thought through. Now jump foward to the "home base station", it needs to be like a self install DSL modem, it gets delivered by mail or you buy it at a store and simply plug it into your broadband. Now it has to slef provision its frequency plan to enhance coverage rather than screw it up. It also needs to open a secure tunnel into the cell networks control and voice backhaul infrastructure presumably via your broadband connection which has some serious security concerns for the cell operator. End result they get you to install there infrastructure and provide the real estate.

Missing the point (4, Insightful)

MrZeebo (331403) | more than 9 years ago | (#11496657)

A lot of posts here seem to be missing the point.

The point is NOT to let you use VOIP with your cell phone. They aren't making this so that you can walk around your house talking on Skype or with some SIP service. I think that the actual reason behind this technology is quite smart.

I have a cell phone. The phone works great and has great reception when I'm out and about, at college, etc. But, I live in a suburban residential area. It is by no means "rural", but still there is not very good cell phone coverage in the area of my house. So, I can use my cell phone wonderfully out in the city area, but not very well around my home, which is the major reason I haven't switch yet to cell-phone-only. I am far from the only person I know who is in this situation. Great reception in general, but weak or no reception at home.

This technology would solve my problem. If I am out and there is cell phone coverage, the phone would use the cell towers. When I walk into my house and the tower reception goes away, the phone would switch right over to my bluetooth access. Sure, it wouldn't be cheap like Skype. But, chances are you'd pay some regular monthly fee (maybe higher than normal...) and this access point would be enabled.

So, the point isn't to make calls cheaper, it's to give you access in the one place that many people don't have it already.

You iNsensitive cloD?! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11496859)

at this poiNt

Prototypes have existed for some time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11496883)

I've seen these several years ago in the labs of an unmentioned manufacturer of such devices. They will not see the light of day because the large consumers of those devices will stop buying them from their manufactuers if they were to make a device that might put a VERY large hole in their revenues.

Don't hold your breath on this one unless one of the cell manufacturers grows some big ones, or an upstart releases one - and even then, good luck getting it activated on a commercial cellular network.

Cell companies are well aware of the potential threat.

Re:Prototypes have existed for some time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11499877)

at least here in the uk there is NOTHING to stop you buying your own handset and putting a sim card in it yourself.

for pay as you go buying a handset and sim card seperately tends to be a bit more expensive £20-£30 or so than buying the phone with sim card from the network but its not a huge difference.

i have never heard of activating phones with the network. as long as the network recognises the sim card you insert then everything works just fine.

embedded cellular modules (like the one used in the port-o-rotary featured on slashdot recently) are kinda expensive though.

Have they missed the boat (1)

Goth Biker Babe (311502) | more than 9 years ago | (#11498824)

A recent survey has shown there are now actually more mobile/cell phones in the UK than there are people. With the cheap 'pay as you go' phones and every contract giving you a free one, it's actually quite hard to get a contract without a phone. Right now there are two dead phones laying on the floor behind me which I really should through in the bin/trash. There are also two perfectly servicable phones in a drawer downstairs, one being my old T68i because I got an upgrade, and one being a virtually unused new phone which was unwanted but came with a contract.

For a while I never used the land line, the only thing it was used for was for ADSL and to receive calls from those who haven't learnt yet that it's easier to get me on my mobilel. But then a couple of months ago a set of four DET phones was bought for the house coming to about $15 a phone. We only bought them because our landline phones are old and faulty but because they are easy to use and I've got one next to my desk I now use the landline.

But basically most people I know don't worry about the price differential between land and mobile costs. Everyone who wants a mobile has got one now. And, although clever, I really don't think their will be a market for an either or phone.

UPS and Bluetooth (1)

ohahmisua (828467) | more than 9 years ago | (#11523476)

Have you guys heard of UPS making their business transition to wireless? (using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) I'm wondering how it works?
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