WiFi Phones

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"Wi-Fi phone services can be divided broadly into two categories: mobile phones that use a wireless network to connect to a VoIP service such as Skype or Vonage, and dual-mode phones that have the capability to run over both wireless networks and a cellular network. The goal of both of these approaches is the Holy Grail of fixed mobile convergence, which brings mobile and landline services together into a single device."

Dual Mode

As for dual-mode phones that hop between wireless and cellular networks, the current leading approach uses Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) technology to handle the wireless side, with a seamless handoff to and from a traditional GSM/GPRS cellular network when a high-quality wireless signal isn't available. If the phone has an active voice or data session and an available wireless signal is detected, the phone will hop to the cheaper, faster wireless network. In theory, the handoffs back and forth between the two types of networks should be transparent to the subscriber.

UMA, which also is referred to as a Generic Access Network (GAN), uses the same slice of the broadcast spectrum -- 2.4 GHz -- used by many wireless networks, cordless phones, and Bluetooth devices.

Single Mode

A handful of VoIP providers, Skype and Vonage among them, have partnered with device manufacturers to offer "single-mode" Wi-Fi phones that connect to their services. Devices touted as "Skype certified" are being offered by Netgear, SMC, Belkin, Sony, and others, while Vonage offers only one, manufactured by UTStarcom.

A fairly significant issue faced by single-mode Wi-Fi phones is that the current crop can only connect to open access points or those secured by WEP or WPA-PSK (the security code can be entered into the phone). Hotspots that require a user name and password, or even free hotspots that require a Web page to load prior to granting access, aren't supported. (http://www.ddj.com/197002806;jsessionid=GOJRZF5OQIGPWQSNDLRCKHSCJUNN2JVN?_requestid=57573)


Review of services available, see this article of Dr. Dobbs journal at http://www.ddj.com/dept/mobile/197002806?pgno=2

Next.Billion.Net reports that WiFi phones are becoming increasingly popular in rural areas.

URL = [1]

The models it discusses are the following:

UTstarcom F1000 Wi-Fi VoIP Phone

The F1000 residential Wi-Fi handset expands the reach of VoIP communications. It provides consumers a new cost effective way to communicate, and includes features such as 3-way Calling, Call Waiting, Call Transfer and many popular features. The phone is being sold under a number of different names (e.g. Vonage & BroadVoice), and costs about $130.

HOP1502 Wi-Fi IP phone

Hop-on, Inc is launching the HOP1502 Wi-Fi IP phone and bundled software solution that allows users to make calls from any Wi-Fi hotspot. Service providers can offer a range of call features, such as three-way calling, call waiting, call forwarding and more. The HOP1502 also enables voice processes, including comfort noise generation, voice activity detection, and echo cancellation. The phone is expected to cost $39.

Nokia 6136

Mobile equipment manufacturer Nokia says it is unifying GSM and Wi-Fi connectivity with a new mobile phone that’s compatible with both wireless standards. The 6136 is a quad-band phone that will connect to GSM networks at 850, 900, 1800, and 1900MHz, which means it will work in the US as well as Europe. It comes with a 1.3 megapixel camera and an FM radio, and supports microSD memory cards. Release is planned for the second quarter of 2006.

Linksys WIP300 and WIP330

The latest entry into the market comes from Linksys. The WIP300 and WIP330 are the first in a line of Wireless IP telephony products from Linksys that will enable users to make low-cost Voice over IP (VoIP) calls through 802.11g wireless networks. The WIP300 and WIP330 are available immediately through authorized Linksys distributors with estimated street prices of $220 and $370 respectively. Additional products from the Linksys family of WiFi phones will be launched in the ‿ second half of 2006.‿

More Information about models

There is a WiFi Phone comparison chart at http://www.informationweek.com/1123/wifi_chart.jhtml

Review of services available, see this article of Dr. Dobbs journal at http://www.ddj.com/dept/mobile/197002806?pgno=2

UT Star model at http://www.utstar.com/Document_Library/0189.pdf

WiFi Cell at http://www.wifi-cell.com/

Nokia model at http://www.europe.nokia.com/nokia/0,,85001,00.html

Linksys at [2]