(keitai-l) Re: Free voice calls - really?!?

From: Benjamin Kowarsch <benjk_at_mac.com>
Date: 08/10/01
Message-Id: <[email protected][]>
>Right now what you need to do is buy an Air-H" card, a sub-notebook
>computer, and install some VoIP software. That's not so bad, and people
>do this all the time. But it's not as good as a phone.
>It wouldn't be a big deal to build the software into something
>phone-shaped that has a CF slot, and put the Air-H" card into that.
>Or just build in the Air-H" hardware. Now you've got something pretty
>close to a keitai.

Absolutely. Now, imagine to put a WiFi card in that slot, then you could
make very cheap VoIP calls from places like coffee shops, hotel and airline
lounges and wherever WLAN is being rolled out. That'd bypass mobile phone
companies entirely. At some point inner city coverage might be good enough
for a significant number of folks to not bothering with a cellular phone at
all anymore - they'd use their WiFi VoIP terminals instead.

I believe the chance for something like that to emerge in densely populated
urban areas is quite high.

Compare the likely metrics to those of PHS in China. It only works inner
city and you can't roam in other cities, but it's extremely cheap compared
to "real cellular" and for about 80% of the population it is the service of

WiFi based VoIP, too, might be limited to inner city areas (plus your home
if you have a WLAN base station) but it would be extremely cheap compared
to cellular and deliver better throughput on data services on top of that.

What would mobile phone companies possibly be able to do to stop such a
development ? Likely, the only thing they could do is compete and lower
their tariffs. But operating a bunch of loosely connected WLANs is always
going to be a lot cheaper than operating cellular infrastructure, so there
will be a limit how far mobile operators can lower their tariffs to stay

And the mobile phone manufacturers wouldn't mind selling WiFi based VoIP
terminals instead of cell phones - for them it doesn't really make a
difference as long as they can sell units.

>The only thing I'm not sure how to deal with there would be incoming
>calls. I don't know enough about the technical details of the system
>(yet) to work out how to do it. But it may not be impossible, and the
>other kinds of services that people will want (instant notification of new
>e-mail arriving on your portable computer, etc.) will generate the need
>for the technical base for that capability, if it's not there already.
>> I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for the wireless telcos/carriers
>> to open up their networks to the point that it's equivalent to the
>> average internet connection....
>No, don't hold your breath, because it's too late. This is a done deal. Or
>is there some big difference between 64K PHS data and an ISDN line or
>modem that I'm missing here?

No, you're right. PHS data is essentially ISDN over the air.

BTW, there are already various technologies to deliver inbound calls to a
VoIP terminal.

>> > At which point the telcos may have to come to their senses and impose
>> > some sort of limit on (or even drop) the all-you-can-eat plans.
>> They'll do it when they dominate both data and voice markets...

The interesting thing about WiFi is that it has the potential to entirely
bypass the incumbent telcos in the last mile, both for data and for voice.


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Received on Fri Aug 10 06:33:47 2001