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Microsoft To Offer Free Wireless VoIP

Hemos posted more than 8 years ago | from the excellent-move dept.

208

Strudelkugel writes "The Business Online reports: MICROSOFT has developed a Skype-style free internet voice service for mobile phones that City analysts believe could wipe billions off the market value of operators such as Vodafone.The service is included in a mobile version of Microsoft Office Communicator due to be released this year. It will take the form of a voice-over internet protocol (VoIP) application that allows Office users to make free voice calls over wi-fi enabled phones running Windows Mobile software. Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer dropped his bombshell at the mobile operators' annual 3GSM show in Barcelona last week. The significance of his remarks was missed because of his effusive and eccentric delivery..." That is huge; I would hope to see the same thing coming out on the Symbian and other devices. The hard part will be getting these to market; since almost all mobile phones are sold thru the mobile telcom companies.

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Anti-competitive? (5, Insightful)

ilitirit (873234) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760019)

Bundling free services with Microsoft products? I smell a lawsuit.

Re:Anti-competitive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14760056)

Yeah, you're not wrong. Mobile operators won't take this lying down; Vodafone are a huge company and can easily take on Microsoft in the court room. If analysts are already saying it could wipe billions off their share price, you can bet the lawyers have already been gathered together.

Re:Anti-competitive? (1, Insightful)

krunk4ever (856261) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760066)

That would only be true if they had a monopoly on mobile phones OS, which I doubt. A perfectly good comparison would be seeing Apple bundle Safari and QuickTime w/ their OS. It's not anti-competitive if they don't have a monopoly which in my opinion is quite stupid.

Re:Anti-competitive? (1)

FidelCatsro (861135) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760632)

However , they could be leveraging their current monopoly to force their way into this market . Then it would be an open target for an anti-trust case .

Re:Anti-competitive? (1)

oztiks (921504) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760138)

Well I'm thinking of the MS strategy here, whos to stop them from charging in the future?

But yes anti-trust lawsuits maybe the case if it does go through, but it seems like their on the other end of the stick if you think about it because the telcos usually control the distribution of the mobile phones in the market place (which is in the TFA)

Re:Anti-competitive? (2, Interesting)

TheNetAvenger (624455) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760155)

Well I'm thinking of the MS strategy here, whos to stop them from charging in the future?

Customers, competition... Just becuase it is a new model, don't mean it won't be successful for others as well.

Besides, we all knew it was going to get to this point eventually. Phone would be like Cable, pay flat fee, and watch as much TV as you want. It has been getting closer and closer, and with technology easing the bandwidth and traffic problems of the past, should be a normal thing.

Besides, A) Microsoft wants to sell Windows Based devices & B) Maybe they realize it will actually help or improve the consumer market at the same time it helps them. What is wrong with a win win, even if they lose money investing in the technology initially.

Re:Anti-competitive? (1)

diegocgteleline.es (653730) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760163)

They're already doing this with messenger, they just have to make a GUI that doesn't sucks to make people use it (the UI is somewhat improved with the upcoming messenger 8)

Re:Anti-competitive? (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760648)

Which will never get anywhere while Republicans run things.

first post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14760023)

Microsoft wins, all ye who come near abandon hope. p.s too much to drink

yeh (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14760024)

makes me wanna wipe my cock across someones face, ai]

the hard part? (4, Interesting)

ChrisGilliard (913445) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760029)

The hard part will be getting these to market; since almost all mobile phones are sold thru the mobile telcom companies.

I think consumers will be willing to buy cell phones from anyone who can eliminate their costly cell phone bills. All Microsoft would have to do is work out a deal with Walmart or some other national chain and people will flock there if this is the real deal.

Re:the hard part? (1)

CockMonster (886033) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760087)

Have you any idea how much operators subsidise the cost of your new mobile phone?

Re:the hard part? (1)

johnny.deathmatch (955890) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760376)

Personally, I know people who buy phones off ebay and whatnot (as I myself have done). If people can make free VoIP calls on the phone also, it would have even more intrinsic value to the customer. Anywho, eventually the mobile operators have to get on board (I hope). I want my next phone to have wifi and VoIP with at least a 30 gig hard drive and a 6 megapixel camera, all controlled with a nice touch screen.....

Hmm (5, Insightful)

$exyNerdie (683214) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760032)

"...could wipe billions off the market value of operators such as Vodafone"

Only if free wi-fi is available everywhere where Vodafone signal is...

Re:Hmm (1)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760111)

The only thing is that if they are operating over Vodafone's 3G network, they could do this (there's an unlimited card in the UK). That said, the 3G network isn't as full as the GSM network in the UK.

However, I already have a business phone. I pay a monthly charge that includes plenty of calls. I'm not going to switch it off completely, so, the saving is marginal. Would an international businessman making hundreds of pounds of calls switch to this? Possibly, but unlikely, and for the same reason that they get to stay in good hotels. Because in the end, making good deals is paramount. Saving a quid a month on calls is a drop in the ocean compared to losing a client because of an unreliable service.

Re:Hmm (4, Informative)

dodobh (65811) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760225)

You only need an instrument capable of switching to GSM when Wifi is not available.

Something like this perhaps:

http://www.gizmodo.com/archives/motorola-cn620-sea mless-wifi-to-gsm-voice-calls-017270.php [gizmodo.com]
http://www.voip-info.org/wiki-VOIP+Phones [voip-info.org]
http://blog.tmcnet.com/blog/tom-keating/mobile-pho nes/zyxel-dualmode-gsmwifi-phone.asp [tmcnet.com]

Enjoy :P

Anyone else read this as... (1)

rs79 (71822) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760309)

"The significance of his remarks was missed because of his effusive and eccentric delivery... coming out on the Sybian and other devices."

Cann'tt yyoouu jjuusttt feeeeell tthhee lloovvee..

Very good point. (5, Informative)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760314)

Free, RELIABLE wi-fi is not available in nearly as many areas in the U.S. as even T-Mobile cell phone coverage. (Note: T-Mobile's coverage SUCKS. They still have far greater and more reliable coverage than free or even paid Wi-Fi.)

Also note that 802.11's channel access scheme is not well suited to transferring many small packets at low latency, which is required for VoIP. The end result is that even an 802.11g access point at full rate (54 Mbps) has trouble matching even a 1.544 Mbps T1 line in terms of VoIP capacity, *even with voice compression*. This is because the capacity limit turns out to be not the raw bitrate, but the number of *packets* per second that the system is able to handle. Small packets and 802.11 just don't mix for a number of reasons. For bulk data, there are packet bursting extensions to 802.11 that help a lot (Part of SuperG for example, and I think Broadcom's equivalent to SuperG also does bursting), but packet bursting introduces too much latency and variation in latency for VoIP.

There was a good analysis of 802.11 capacity for SIP-based VoIP somewhere, I can't remember where. Note that IAX trunks would get MUCH better capacity in this situation, but this only helps for actual trunk connections (for example, trunking across a long-range cantenna-based 11g link), not when each user has a different device connected to the AP.

Re:Very good point. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14760561)

Free, RELIABLE wi-fi is not available in nearly as many areas in the U.S. as even T-Mobile cell phone coverage. (Note: T-Mobile's coverage SUCKS. They still have far greater and more reliable coverage than free or even paid Wi-Fi.)

Anonymous Coward's posts are better than Andy Dodd's. Andy Dodd's posts SUCK.

You see, in my anonymous experience, T-Mobile's coverage has been fine -- nothing to complain about. Your posts, however, begin with flamebait. Even though later you seem to know what you're talking about (I'm no expert so I can't judge), your post still begins with off-topic flaming. Why should I bother to read more?

Re:Very good point. (1)

JLester (9518) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760595)

We have several Cisco 7920 wireless phones running. They run on regular 802.11g with no special features or extensions to the protocol. We have never had a single complaint about voice quality. Some are even on a local wireless network connected to our main site over a wireless bridge link, so their calls cross two different 802.11 networks before getting to our gateway.

I know of other sites that use the same phones for everyone with no complaints.

Jason

Vodafone is already written off... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14760410)

The Greek illegal wiretapping scandal: some translations and resources.
http://politics.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/02/ 03/1810219&from=rss [slashdot.org] , http://homes.esat.kuleuven.be/~gdanezis/intercept. html [kuleuven.be]
imagine what an MS product compromise could mean.

Microsoft are just as scared (5, Insightful)

Isomer (48061) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760033)

Microsoft are just as scared of VoIP as the carriers, with Skype, Google Talk and everyone else jumping on the VoIP bandwagon, it's another application "space" that Microsoft haven't entered and therefore can't control. By releasing their own "Skype killer" it means that they can control how people use this service, and make sure that Microsoft products are the way to do it.

Skype... what Skype? (2, Insightful)

lastberserker (465707) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760103)

Thanks to their deplorable deal with Intel [slashdot.org] they are off my memory page for good.

Re:Skype... what Skype? (1)

diegocgteleline.es (653730) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760156)

Maybe from your mind, but no frome everybody else's mind. I'm already seeing voip phones announced in TV, and this is spain, a rare place to see such things so soon

Re:Microsoft are just as scared (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14760296)

What are you talking about, msn has had voice to other computers for ages, and I also had calling out from windows messenger via third party providers not only years ago, but years before google talk.

Re:Microsoft are just as scared (1)

Deathlizard (115856) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760434)

Microsoft was one of the first Voip providers.

Remember Netmeeting? That was around since I believe IE4, maybe earlier. The biggest problem was that it didn't have a way to easily connect to other users without knowing their IP address, so me and my friends used to use ICQ's IP address reporting to connect to each other, that is until MSN messenger came out.

Speaking of MSN messenger, MSN messenger had full voip capabilities when it was first released, including dialpad.com like calling from your computer to someone else's land phone, but they ditched it early because it cost them so much they had to start charging for it and they eventually removed it when dialpad.com went pay and no one owuld pay for MSN's service.

Sounds Great (5, Interesting)

omegashenron (942375) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760034)

As much as I hate microsoft, I think they are on a real winner with this one. If it ever makes it to the Australian market I'd sign up for it. I for one am sick to death of paying a $0.20 call connection fee + $0.60 per minute to use my mobile, perhaps this will force the telecommunications industry to adopt reasonable rates.

Re:Sounds Great (2, Insightful)

shmlco (594907) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760065)

"...perhaps this will force the telecommunications industry to adopt reasonable rates."

Nah. It will just cause them to run out their tame congress-critters, who'll enact anti-VOIP legislation for the "good" of the consumer. Probably under the guise of VOIP being unable to do 911 emergency location services.

Re:Sounds Great (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760169)

As much as I hate microsoft, I think they are on a real winner with this one.

I'm failing to see the difference between this "service" they're offering and just running a SIP client on a 802.11 enabled cellphone (or other device). SIP clients are already available for Windows CrapEdition devices (have been for ages).

Of course, I'm a little miffed that I still can't seem to get a SIP client for my Sony Ericsson P900 (runs Symbian UIQ) :(

Re:Sounds Great (3, Informative)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760344)

You can do this now. If you have a windows based mobile phone you can use skype. You don't have to wait for MS to sell you something.

All you need is a wifi spot.

Verizon v Microsoft : Who wins? (1)

Tabby_N (955503) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760052)

Let's see if the telcos can still use and maintain their "traffic shaping" in the face of Microsoft. If it's not good for anything, at least the 800 pound gorrila is on our side this time..

Everybody Loses (1)

masterpenguin (878744) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760416)

With the customer support history of the two companys, i'd rather not go through either of these companys for any or my realtime telecommunicaion needs. I'd say in the end large telco's vs microsoft will amount to a zero sum for the consumer.

This should be interesting (5, Insightful)

ben_1432 (871549) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760054)

Good on Microsoft for showing some initiative. Skype's great, and I pay to use it, but it does not have the impact (read marketing) MS can throw behind a product.

Considering what an absolute rip-off cell calls are and have always been, I'm all for free wireless + voip.

PS. I wonder if any telco ceo's are throwing chairs around :)

Taking a leaf... (1)

Maven-X (890699) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760060)

out of Google's book?

Isn't this already being pioneered in San Francisco and countless other places?

Re:Taking a leaf... (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760079)

"Isn't this already being pioneered in San Francisco and countless other places?"

Yae, but MS invented it first in 2006 and these others retrospectivly (through a wormhole) just copied Microsoft's innovation. The same way Google copied MS Ajax and Yahoo copied Hotmail (sarcasm).

Re:Taking a leaf... (1)

ben_1432 (871549) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760106)

Google didn't invent wireless, or voip, or communication methods. Neither did MS, but Google doesn't deserve any credit for it.

FYI: Ajax isn't something you can copy it's a feature/function of JavaScript. You can copy a script that uses Ajax, but unless you want to write your own JS parser you can't copy Ajax itself.

Re:Taking a leaf... (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760600)

You are quite correct, Google didn't invent any of the above and what is more to the point doesn't claim to have but do deserve some credit for Gmail and the rest.

According to this blog entry MS invented Ajax in 1998: "All of the pieces of AJAX [asp.net] .. have been available in Internet Explorer for some time, and Outlook Web Access .. since 1998"

http://fudwatcher.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

Microsoft is the new IBM (4, Interesting)

Zork the Almighty (599344) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760067)

As I read this article I couldn't help but think of the parallels between what Microsoft is doing with VOIP and what IBM did with the personal computer. VOIP is headed for 100% adoption now, and the telcos are in serious trouble. People are going to use free or cheap internet access points, and nobody is going to pay those outrageous rates for the cell phone infrastructure anymore.

Thank you, Microsoft. You may still be evil, but you've done the world a favor by destroying the exploitative business model of an industry that is arguably more evil.

Re:Microsoft is the new IBM (5, Funny)

Zork the Almighty (599344) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760076)

I should add: "Please stab Hollywood in the back next!"

Re:Microsoft is the new IBM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14760122)

I should add: "Please stab Hollywood in the back next!"

It sure is more likely Microsoft will do this than Steve "Disney" Jobs at least.

Re:Microsoft is the new IBM (1)

popeyethesailor (325796) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760222)

Yes, MS has magically created a gigantic wireless mesh spanning the entire world, and everyone'll have free low-latency bandwidth! FREE! yes! FREE PHONE CALLS! CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? NOW!!11232

wow. people are so naive.

VOIP is headed for 100% adoption?? Since when? (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760451)

Not sure what universe you're living in but out of all the
people I know only 1 uses VoIP at all and even then only
when he can be bothered (easier to pick up a phone than
wait for PC to boot and all the associated bollocks that
goes with it). Sure , VoIP might be becoming popular in
internal corporate LANS but thats about it so far.

Re:Microsoft is the new IBM (2, Interesting)

duffer_01 (184844) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760572)

I doubt this means that the telcos are in serious trouble. First of all most telcos are already getting into VOIP so the majority of customers will stick with them. I think you also have to consider the fact that it would be fairly simply for the internet providers to throttle back the bandwidth of non-friendly (i.e. free) VOIP services to the point that it becomes unusable. This would be especially important for businesses. Almost like the mafia, either use our service or your VOIP gets it. ;-)

Security Nightmare! (2, Insightful)

nagora (177841) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760070)

Can you IMAGINE what a mess Microsoft will make of this. Time to block those ports...

TWW

Computing == Telecommmunications == Control (4, Insightful)

Sub Zero 992 (947972) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760073)

Convergence between small, portable computing devices and small, portable telephones has been occurring for years. Much of the technology is the same, much of the manufacturing is the same, the consumers are the same.

The question is, how much control of our personal information, how much logging and protocolling, how centralized will this convergence become? I would really hate to see the day when most people are emailing, phoning, websurfing and otherwise communicating on a hardware and software platform which comes with user-distrust cryptographically enforced on a TPM module.

It won't wipe billions off anything (5, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760074)

3G internet costs a fortune to use (it's a total scam). I think Vodafone would actually be delighted if you were foolish enough to use VOIP over 3G. MS might make it "free" to call fellow MS Office licensees, but the internet access isn't free.

The other possibility is that the phone has some kind of wi-fi capabilties that connects to a local wireless network. I'm sure that will be the first feature to be crippled when you buy your Vodafone / O2 / Orange / T-Mobile branded phone.

But even assuming it weren't, how is this any different from what you can do with Skype now? I use my iPaq & Skype to make calls from hotels all the time. I too can call other Skype users for free, and landlines & mobiles. They don't have to buy MS Office or even be running Windows. The biggest problem with wi-fi access is that coverage spotty, potentially expensive, potentially illegal, and there is no roaming or moving at all. And you can kiss goodbye to your battery life. On top of that, workers are expected to be using a Microsoft enable phone with Microsoft Office.

It all sounds like a pipe dream to me. Of course because MS is a huge gorilla they might be able to foist this on some networks, especially the concept of site wide coverage (i.e. it works anywhere on the company premises), but that's about it IMHO.

Re:It won't wipe billions off anything (2, Insightful)

caffeination (947825) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760098)

That, and the fact that there's nothing free about the service anyway. Those of you saying things like "a leaf out of Google's book" are way off. Google offers its services for free to all comers. This Microsoft thing is more analogous to the "free dvd" you get on a magazine - it's only free in that you can't quantify the mark-up of the price of what it comes with.

And besides that:
  1. included in a mobile version of Microsoft Office Communicator
  2. allows Office users to make free voice calls
  3. phones running Windows Mobile software
We are Microsoft. Your biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own. Resistance is futile

Re:It won't wipe billions off anything (1)

thesandbender (911391) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760148)

I, and most of my friends, do not have home telephones and rely completely on our cellphones and this actually becoming the norm in most urban areas. It would be rather nice to be at my apartment or even at my friends' pads and not have to burn valuable minutes and use the Wi-Fi instead. As you pointed out, you can already do that with an iPaq or an Axim but it would be nice to have it built into the phone and be able to carry one less brick on your waist.

It may not wipe billions off anything but if it takes a few ounces off my waist, I'm happy.

Re:It won't wipe billions off anything (3, Informative)

acid_zebra (552109) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760154)

"3G internet costs a fortune to use"

that phase will not last long. Already here in the Netherlands I can get almost 100% coverage (granted, we're a small country) and my provider has contracts with most other European countries so I don't pay through the nose there.

I pay something like 60-70 EUR a month for flat-fee UMTS access.

Re:It won't wipe billions off anything (1)

Macka (9388) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760283)

I pay something like 60-70 EUR a month for flat-fee UMTS access
Yeah, but I bet you're bandwidth capped. How expensive does it get when you discover that you've blown your inclusive 200MB/month (or whatever it is) though web browsing, email and VoIP calls, and you default to their higher tariff ? The parent is quite right for countries like the UK.

The article says this will be targeted at business users first. And that's where I see it having the most appeal.

 

Re:It won't wipe billions off anything (1)

curious.corn (167387) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760358)

In Italy the incumbent's mobile provider has a 20 /month flat rate with 512MB cap. Buying another 512MB within the same month assigns a renewable 512 MB bonus for an effective 1.5 GB/month for 40 /month. I guess the idiots that devised this plan only thought about mobile video streaming but a smartphone with skype can really rock on this

Re:It won't wipe billions off anything (1)

curious.corn (167387) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760425)

/. mangled my post. All price rates are in EURO

Re:It won't wipe billions off anything (2, Interesting)

DrXym (126579) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760330)

I use Vodafone in Ireland and the 3G service is IMHO a total ripoff. The price for WAP (internet) is 2 cents per kilobyte! Hence the reason that Vodafone would be laughing if you used their service for VOIP. On top of that they'll rape you if you ever roam on your phone, even on other Vodafone networks.

Now this particular article refers to wi-fi so it's probably not 3G. But since Vodafone subsidize and customize their handsets you can virtually guarantee that no phone of theirs will support it, or if they do it will be crippled in some way. They are not alone to do this. All the major phone networks will cripple any feature which allows you to bypass their pricing structure.

Therefore the only other possible way I can see this working is if you (an individual or a business) bought some special MS enabled, GSM phone handsets at full cost (since there would be no subsidy) and then set about to use it in wi-fi mode around the office (and equipped hotels, conf centers) and GSM mode elsewhere. This seems highly implausible to say the least. Wi-fi & VOIP isn't anywhere remotely as reliable or tolerant as a regular cell phone even when you're standing right beside the access point.

Re:It won't wipe billions off anything (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760424)

> The biggest problem with wi-fi access is that coverage spotty, potentially
> expensive, potentially illegal, and there is no roaming or moving at all.

I can't see how wi-fi access is `potentially illegal` unless you mean if you're using someone's wi-fi service illegally, but in that case you'd have to offer the same disclaimer about using cars, PCs, shoes etc...

Outgoogling Google (1, Interesting)

spectrumCoder (944322) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760095)

Sounds to me like they're trying to outgoogle Google. Google has beaten Microsoft in many product areas because most of what it produces is useful, well designed and free, whereas most of Microsoft comes up with is inaccessible, bloated and often expensive.

Sounds like Microsoft wants to take a leaf out of Google's book. If Google didn't exist Microsoft would be charging a subscription for this.

Re:Outgoogling Google (1)

inkdesign (7389) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760462)

Sorry you got modded troll.. Not the most positive take on things, but certainly sounds realistic to me.

They are going to F*CKING KILL GOOGLE! (1)

objekt (232270) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760631)

Or so they say.

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer dropped (1)

zaguar (881743) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760099)

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer dropped his bombshell...

5 hours later, Redmond, Ballmer's Office

CRASH!

When I drop bombshells, CHAIRS BREAK! THAT WAS NOT A FUCKING BOMBSHELL!

Sounds of chairs being thrown

Well, yeah... (1)

WheelDweller (108946) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760101)

With Linux eating up their business all over the planet, what's a monopoly to do? :)

Don't worry- this'll as good as everything else has.

Anyone want a cookie? :)

definition: (4, Funny)

lxs (131946) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760102)

...from the Microsoft internal dictionary:

Innovation (noun) The act of poorly imitating the most hyped current technology and passing it off as your own.

Telco's are still running the show though (3, Informative)

Tenk101 (938734) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760107)


I'm all for this, but at least where I live in the UK most public WAPss are control by telephone companies like BT or T-Mobile, this even includes WAPss that you find in hotels etc.. It would definately be good at home and at work but I think less good on the move unless a bunch more WiFi operators start up and get seriously comptetive.

As it is, I only really use public WAPs when I really need something because they also charge very high rates for short sessions like an hour. The only way to get better rates on the public WAPs is to subscribe to a telco operated service then you end up full circle.

Monopoly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14760129)

I live in the UK most public WAPss are control by telephone companies like BT (1) or T-Mobile (2)

You do realise what the "mono" in "monopoly" means, yes? "Most" public WAPs are operated by various telecoms companies. What's your point? That's like claiming Vodafone have a monopoly on mobile telecoms because "most" mobile phone masts "are control[sic] by telephone companies like Vodafone or Orange".

Re:Monopoly? (1)

tolan-b (230077) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760218)

Where did (s)he say anything about a monopoly?

Re:Monopoly? (1)

Tenk101 (938734) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760231)

Its not a total monopoly, it just takes somebody with a very very long wire and a licence to dig up roads all over the country to enter the market...could try it with satellites I guess but last time I checked that was a bit pricey too and gave a bit of a laggy reception.

Re:Monopoly? (1)

Tenk101 (938734) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760268)


The point was more that the telephone companies still in the end route the traffic and have the cut for it. I realize there are multiple telephone companies in exitance. Its an Olygopoly technically and a price-fixing cartel. Very hard for MS/Skype anybody to take the telco's out of the equation at the moment.

Re:Telco's are still running the show though (1)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760224)

Can you buy a cross-network monthly card for hotspots? I don't want a wifi phone that means I have to sign up with T-mobile, BT, The Cloud etc.

To me, this is the issue of "another account". Spending £20+ a month on unlimited wifi that I'm unlikely to completely use, as well as £30 for a GSM phone. I already get about the right amount of calls on my plan.

Service and Phone separated in Europe (5, Informative)

madsen (17668) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760114)

The hard part will be getting these to market; since almost all mobile phones are sold thru the mobile telcom companies.
In the states perhaps. In Europe it's very common that you buy your phones unlockled. Here in Finland it's even illegal to sell a phone with the service included, they have to be sold separately, without connection.

Re:Service and Phone separated in Europe (1)

molarmass192 (608071) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760564)

That's interesting, I was just wondering why MS would risk pissing off the carriers (who almost always bundle phones here in the US) when MS Mobile enabled phones on this side of the ocean barely have a toe-hold in the market. The carriers here can litterally make or break a phone. If they see MS as a threat (and they are weary of them at best), they will simply kill off the market for MS Mobile phones and that will be the end of that. Now, if the US gov were to make it illegal to bundle phones, then this might work ... makes me wonder what MS's lobbyists in DC are doing this time of year.

Unlicensed Mobile Access (2, Interesting)

Diomidis Spinellis (661697) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760128)

Mobile operators are also moving in the same direction with the unlicensed mobile access [wikipedia.org] (UMA) technology. With UMA you'll be able to make calls with your mobile phone through a Wi-Fi network. The operators know that this will eat into their wireless revenue stream, but they hope to recover the losses from a higher usage (you'll be using your mobile phone at home). So the real question is the choice between Microsoft's (nonstandard?) VoIP version and UMA.

Re:Unlicensed Mobile Access (2, Insightful)

Raindeer (104129) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760499)

So the real question is the choice between Microsoft's (nonstandard?) VoIP version and UMA.


Sorry mate, the question is, whether it will be SIP over 3G broadband mobile phones or just GSM over wifi (UMA). Now, my bet is on the first one, because it is simpler and judging past behaviours of mobile telco's... cheaper.

And the teleco owned ISPS will play along with MS? (1)

beoswulf (940729) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760137)

Do Verizon, the baby Bells, and cable operators like Cablevision that offer their own pay to use VOIP have to play along with this death knell?
It's already technically against my TOS to host a Civ4 game, could we expect the same for VOIP use? Or what about a more brutal "port-block" like method of stopping wifi phones from connecting in wi-fi hotspots or even at home? Won't the infrastructure have to be set in place and cooperating for VOIP wifi enabled phones to take off?

Ballmer's lost message (1)

acid_zebra (552109) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760141)

"The significance of his remarks was missed because of his effusive and eccentric delivery..."

is THAT what that monkey dance is called. Hey, mom! I'm not a total wingnut! I'm effusive and eccentric!

Re:Ballmer's lost message (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760221)

Rich people are eccentric, you are just crazy :-).

Article light on details but... (1)

porkThreeWays (895269) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760171)

And it will probably use their own protocol and probably have to connect to the PSTN constantly to have any usefulness. And because they connect to the PSTN they will have to pay pound-me-in-the-ass wholesale rates for calls, completely defeating the purpose of VoIP. I used to work in the VoIP industry and made a striking observation. The calls that get completely routed SIP/SDP/RTP are dirt cheap! This is what a majority of what the small guys do and they make an absolute killing. One guy with a 2,500 dollar VoIP gateway can make thousands a month.

So using your own protocol makes you least accessable in the VoIP arena, and you end up having to connect to the PSTN for the majority of your calls and paying Bellsouth pound-me-in-the-ass rates. IAX has it right and will probably be the future for the small guys.

It's mind boggling that any of these new guys would want to force themselves to connect to the PSTN. Traditional telecoms are a technological dinosaur and we really don't need them anymore. They are still around because they have so much power. If all the VoIP guys just used a standard, they could superceed traditional telecom and eventually force it to adapt.

But they are dumb. The small guys will continue to make a killing working together. The big guys will continue to write their own protocols. And the big telecoms will continue to charge outrageous rates for their 1980's technology.

Re:Article light on details but... (1)

Tenk101 (938734) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760208)

Totally agree with this, however in my experience I can't ignore that the combo of POTS, Cellular and ISDN that is used to do most of the telephoning we do today is superior to VoIP when it comes to telephony. It's definately old, it's not a perfect design (especially in the US/Canada/Japan) but it does do phone calls well.

Its just too bad that nearly everywhere, the people with the wires in the ground and the antenna's sticking out of it refuse to compete fairly with eachother on price. Those who own the infrastructure ultimately have all of the control whether you got Cellular->ISDN, POTS->ISDN, Wifi->ADSL over POTS, 3G->Cellular->ISDN etc..

Does this rely on wifi? (1)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760182)

Does this rely on wifi?

So, what happens if I'm on the train? Or in a village. Does this roam?

I guess it will work in a town, assuming I've got a hotspot for the network that I've signed up with for a month, and not one of the other providers. In which case, I'll have to sign up again to use their service, all with my easy to use cellphone web browser.

Someone tried something called Rabbit [wikipedia.org] in the UK where people would have to be near a basepoint. The mobile networks offered more flexibility and costs were coming down.

This won't be like Rabbit, but I don't imagine the network providers are quaking in their boots.

Serves them right... (1)

HoofArted (611932) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760188)

Mobile phone companies the world over have raped the consumer, time and time again. To charge users 8 - 15 pence for a single 1Kb text message and excessive call charges, they deserve what they get. For companies like Vodafone to start up and with-in 5 years be one of the largest companies in the world, it does not take a genius to work out who they are screwing.

I for one welcome our new, who ever they are, free VOIP overlords!

Re:Serves them right... (2, Insightful)

Alioth (221270) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760207)

1 kilobyte? Try 160 bytes. If you send a short response to someone, you can be paying pennies per _bit_.

To all those eager to jump on Micosoft's bandwagon (1)

curious.corn (167387) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760211)

consider the risk of MSIEzating the VoIP protocol. I seriously don't believe Microsoft isn't going to play the usual proprietarization trick to lock user under their own closed platform and eventually levy its own monopoly tax. In any case the quality of Microsoft 1.0 releases hasn't ever been exactly stellar so while waiting for Microsoft to get it right try this other proprietary platform [skype.com] . After all it's here, now.

Skype has that (4, Informative)

Britz (170620) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760226)

Isn't that exactly what Skype has been offering for almost 2 years now with Skype for Pocket PC?

http://www.skype.com/products/skype/pocketpc/ [skype.com]

Convicted Monopolists ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14760228)

Just can't enter new markets. They have to prove that their monopoly money has not been used unfairly. The VoIP operators and the telcos know this, being rather expert themselves. I think they are just overhanging the market. More FUD. The battle is still over Linux.

GPRS too costly for this to be effective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14760233)

Let's see, in the UK GPRS is around £2/Mb. VoIP at a poor 16kbit/second = 120 kbytes/minute. Which means that for £2 you can speak for around 8 minutes. Way too expensive I think!

Big Deal, There is already Windows Mobile Skype (1)

NerdENerd (660369) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760254)

Skype for Windows Mobile has been out for ages. It will run on any device running pocket PC or Windows Mobile with a wifi connection. http://www.skype.com/products/skype/pocketpc/ [skype.com]

And it will work with MacOS and Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14760262)

Skype does, unlike say Yahoo and Google tools.

Free? (1)

pahles (701275) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760275)

So you have to buy something to get something free? Hmmm, smells fishy...

Re:Free? (2, Insightful)

Bandit0013 (738137) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760316)

Like how you have to buy a laptop to use a free wifi spot?

This is a poor but typical response (1, Insightful)

theolein (316044) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760287)

While the pundits are thanking MS for undercutting the telcos, who are even bigger bloodsuckers than MS itself is, this is, IMO, simply Microsoft trying to grab a niche in the smartphone market where it has been performing terribly, even after the famous Microsoft 3rd Try(TM), where they usually finally make the product good enough to compete. The handset makers realised pretty early on that Microsoft's partnerships were terribly one-sided, and generally stayed with Symbian which is generally far less onerous than MS/Windows.

MS tried everything. They threw their Smartphone OS at various small operators in the hope that it would undercut the established giants, such as Sony-Ericsson, Nokia and Motorola, but no one wanted the phones from unknown makers. In that market, brand is important.

Of the telcos, the only large operator that took MS' Smartphone OS on, was Orange and it proved to be a disaster. The phones were unreliable and Orange treated potential developers as badly as everyone else did. The Orange smartphone tanked.

By this time, VOIP had taken off, and Skype was first to the post and has continually expanded its userbase to the tune of Skype now having something like 300 million customers. That's pretty big. Slashdotters tend to only see the value of Skype in a technogeek kind of way, in that they only think it's worth it because they can perhaps use a Wifi enabled PDA or smartphone with a presumably free access point (at home and a few cities if you're lucky) to circumvent mobile operators. What they don't see are the uncounted millions of poor foreign guest workers and 3rd world internet cafe visitors who use Skype to avoid the high prices of overseas and long distance calls. Those people are the ones who really benefit from Skype.

And they sure as fuck are not interested in buying Microsoft enabled Smartphones and Office. Microsoft is still trying to grab a niche in the smartphone market, but I'm pretty sure they'll fall flat on their faces once again.

If it were Google, now... (1)

Cardbox (165383) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760291)

If Google did this then you could store a month's worth of old conversations and search for words within them.
On Google's servers, of course.

Microsoft is coming late to the field. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14760339)

Currently i am using a PocketPc with wifi and Skype to do local and international calls. Microsoft developed the pocketPc, and only now, after years of connecting their pocketPc's using wifi, their folks discovered that can make money with voip.
Microsoft don't have a NAT-NAT communication feature inside MSN Messenger, and this product doesn't allow voip inside a pocketpc. Microsoft won't control this market, even with their pocketPc line.
Their guys don't have competence to do new killer applications, currently they are trying to defend their monopolies.
For a long time Microsoft is trying to compete with Sony in the games, but are losting a lot of money.
Currently Microsoft makes money with Windows and Office, their other products have to compete hand to hand to gain market from competitors. Bill Gates have lost his competence in the field, he knows today how to spend his money, no more than that.

The hard part will companies talking to each other (1)

zaroastra (676615) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760374)

The hard part will be getting these to market; since almost all mobile phones are sold thru the mobile telcom companies.
Nah, the hard part will be companies talking to each other.
Even today prices for intercompany calls, roamings, etc, are all punitive.
Short of Total World Domination by microsoft, how well do you think MS thinguies will talk with other things in the market?
From previous experience, not so well, so we are in shait nonetheless...

Too many politics (3, Interesting)

porkThreeWays (895269) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760379)

Do we really need "cell phones" anymore these days? It's hard to believe we are still doing things like this. Here's what we should have in 2006...

Gone is the idea of the "phone". You make phone calls via a softphone on your iPaq or Zaurus type mobile device. You have a handheld computer with a softphone. Instead of the idea of connecting to a cellular phone network, you pay a monthly flat fee and get a 1 megabit EVDO pipe to your phone and home computer. You pay your VoIP provider for minutes and your cellular network provider for internet access.

The ONLY reason we don't do things like that is because cell companies have so much control. They make a crapload of money scamming us and aren't going to give it up anytime soon. Cell phone networks are of the few networks left you actually pay on a per byte basis. There's no technical reason for them to do it. They just know there are few players in that market and can get away with it.

All it would really take is an internet service provider to get the balls and team up with a cable TV and VoIP provider. Provide fiber to the home for TV, phone, and internet. Set up a 3G cell network with EVDO for mobile internet access. Sell iPaq's with a softphone. They could make a KILLING. I'm willing to bet most of middle class America would pay 200-300 dollars a month FLAT FEE to get all their voice, tv, and internet from one provider that they can use anywhere (when in reality, it's just providing internet with other services on top of it).

Sadly though, if someone's going to invest in a cellular network, they probably want to be in the raquet too and aren't going to provide all that.

Problems (2, Interesting)

unoengborg (209251) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760380)

This is great if you live in a big city with lots of WiFi hotspots, but I doubt Microsoft will provide the infrastructure to make it work in the coutryside. This would mean that these people would have to rely on traditional cell phone service providers. The cost for these people would probably go up drastically if Microsoft grabs all the customers in more profitable areas.

There are also other issues, e.g. in many countries emergency calls needs to be tracable so that help can be sent even if the caller doesn't know where he is or is too badly injured to tell. Will Microsoft be able to provide this?

Probably Going Nowhere (4, Insightful)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760381)

The thing is that unless this service is based upon open protocols and standards, it will be doomed to failure. How many electricity companies do you know who make money by selling you 72 volts, 16.6667Hz {well, that's what they say it is, but you aren't allowed to measure it} from weirdy sockets with different-shaped pins, and selling the special appliances to go with it possibly at a loss?

Telephones only took off because of compatibility. POTS networks are all similar enough that you can be fairly sure that a phone or modem will work anywhere in the world, if you can only find the correct plug to fit the weirdy sockets you are likely to encounter on your travels {hint: two crocodile clips and a multi-tool [please let's not start a Gerber v. Leatherman flame war here; the Gerber must be better, because all cheap knock-offs are based on the Leatherman] are as good as anything}.

A VoIP client is only any good if it is compatible with existing standards -- or if it can reasonably be reverse-engineered.

And yet Motorola/cell phone COs won't ship A910 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14760487)

And yet Motorola won't ship the A910 (Which uses Linux and Java) because cell phone execs are worried about 802.11 cutting into their cash flow.

(Remember, you are not the consumer of cell phones in the US of A, the Cell phone oligolopy is.)

Voice-over internet-protocol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14760495)

So what is this voice-over protocol?

If you press a button, does it decrease the volume of the passing packets?

That would be awesome! Imagine being able to mute that pesky neighbor who's playing his web-based pr0n too loud!

Over hyped much? (2, Informative)

the-stringbean (884738) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760559)

...City analysts believe could wipe billions off the market value of operators such as Vodafone.

Right... just like the PocketPC version of Skype did... this stuff only works reliably (well.. kinda...) over WiFi which limits you to your home, internet cafes, random unsecured WiFi points (not that I condone wardriving or any other illegal use of other peoples access points) and (for those who are lucky) WiFi enabled metropolitan areas. Now where is it that most people use there mobile phones? I think you'll find that the majority of calls are made where there is no WiFi connectivity. I know that most of the time I'm away from an access point, and yes I do have a Windows Mobile PocketPC Edition device that has Skype on it.

I'm not too sure on the business model that the US mobile operators use but in the UK a large chunk of the revenue comes from line rental with most calls being made with inclusive minutes (there are 'Pay as you Go' plans but I've yet to find a PocketPC phone on these plans yet). Mobile operators aren't going to give a monkey's if you use Skype or your free minutes, they already have your money. The only real threat is from the PocketPC PDAs (the non-phone ones) that aren't linked to a mobile network and generate no revenue for mobile operators.

And as a side note - last time I checked Vodafone don't sell any Windows Mobile powered devices (at least in the UK) so they aren't really going to be affected by this unless everyone jumps ship to another operator.

Re:Over hyped much? (2, Insightful)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760670)

Exactly. I pay about £30 a month, and get as many free calls as I normally use.

The alternative is to have a basic rental (say £15/month) and then have to have a separate wifi account and be switching around based on whether I can get a wifi signal with a network that I signed up for £20+/month. Bear in mind that often, I'm not near wifi and need to make a call.

It's not a big enough saving to make it worth it.

The interesting thing is whether wifi will even survive. 3G cards are coming down in price, and are now at a point where they may cost a little more (45+VAT vs 23 inc VAT) the convenience may soon start to outweigh the savings.

Professionals at Embrace, Extend and Extinguish (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760578)

The first part is always fun and free.

Wake up ppl, you have had 20 years of paying for this Professional upgrade slop.

You will need to pay "professional" costs for any use of this 'personal' service.

Embrace: "Free"
Extend: "a form of a voice-over internet protocol"
Extinguish: "professional solutions" as they try to go free vs M$ consumer junk.

So What? Mobile users can do this now.... (1)

CFD339 (795926) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760623)

...forget proprietary solutions. Most mobile devices have programming languages based on .net or java now. Those which support wifi can use any voip protocol someone writes a client for.

The key here will be when a good SIP, IAX2, h.323, or whatever -- stack exists through LGPL so that most programmers can easily use it to create those clients.

So, the Stack-Geek types need to get those open stacks written and out there so the UI-Geek types can use them to make clever VoIP clients.

VoIP is so much more than just phone calls -- as these stacks emerge using a VoIP stream to carry all kind of real time data will become very commmon.

Effusive and Eccentric? (1)

Xophmeister (602649) | more than 8 years ago | (#14760674)

The significance of his remarks was missed because of his effusive and eccentric delivery...

So he threw another chair, right?

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