Friday, July 21, 2006

Alphabet Soup...

posted by Scott Roche

VOIP + WiFi + 3G CDMA + Skype = Confusion for most and dirt cheap phone calls in the near future.

VOIP = Voice Over Internet Protocol. This is the ability to make and recieve phone calls using the internet. There are a couple of ways to go here. I use a service from my hi-speed internet service provider. They provide a piece of hardware that I plug a regular phone into and for thirty bucks I can call whomever I please and talk as long as I want. Vonage offers something similar and isn't ISP dependent.

The other option is to use a service called Skype. Up until recently you could only use Skype and your PC to "call" other users of that software on their PC. They have expanded their horizons and now for a nominal fee you can use SkypeOut to call a regular phone or get a SkypeIn phone number so that non-computer phreaks can call you from a landline.

Soon you'll be able to buy a phone from a third party that'll enable you to use your Skype account from any WiFi hotspot. Their site says that the phones will be available sometime in the next month and it looks like they'll cost about two to two-hundred fifty dollars. Given the near ubiquity of hotspots that's pretty cool. That means no monthly fees and it looks like that's making cell phone service providers a little nervous.

Not as nervous though as a phone that combines 3G CDMA (the latest in high speed cell technology) and WiFi VOIP. These phones will be able to switch on the fly between the two. If you're in the boonies then you run off the nearest cell tower. Sipping a latte at B&N? Your phone detects the hot spot and you connect to that.

Now of course someone will still be making some bucks. The dual nature phones will be hideously expensive. Free hotspots are becoming rare. Skype or their competitors will charge you some sort of fee. But if you're still using a traditional landline the it's time to examine your options.


At 12:35 PM, Blogger codemorse said...


I'd expect these phones to remain prohibitively expensive for a few years before next-genning their way into a cheaper, mass-producable form.

What's the deal with hot spots? Are cities deciding to cancel their "free" spots? From what I've read, New York is working on going city-wide with their wi-fi program. Are we the exception to the general trend?

At 1:07 PM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

City wide hot spots so far as I know would probably remain "free" (paid for by tax dollars). The ones at your favorite coffee shop/copy store/etc. are all either pay or going that way. Our downtown has free wifi and a West Virginia co-op is working on bringing Wi-fi to the whole state if I remember correctly. There's also a non-profit who will be trying to get a nation wide free wifi service. They'll provide a low bandwidth connection for free to whomever and charge for a bigger pipe.

On another tip, but related if either of you guys wants to know about something in particular I'll always take topic suggestions for these posts. Not that I'm having any trouble finding material to write about.


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