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Siemens Sells Skype Adapters For Wireless Phones 192

Posted by timothy
from the whaddya-know dept.
prostoalex writes "In a recent Slashdot story on Skype CEO interview some comments expressed displeasure with the fact that you have to be tied up to your computer to make those VOIP calls via Skype. Not anymore - this adapter from Siemens plugs into the USB port of the computer and allows Siemens Gigaset S645, Gigaset S440/445 or Gigaset C340/345 phone models to use the Skype connection instead of landline. News.com has the story."
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Siemens Sells Skype Adapters For Wireless Phones

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  • There are several products that do exactly this with regular household handsets and with standard VOIP programs. Why is this news just because Skype is doing it? Oh yeah, Skype rhymes with hype. I see the connection.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12, 2004 @03:07AM (#10796133)

    in the highlights seccion:

    Display of Internet alerts (e.g. weather, stock market), Instant Messaging (IMS) on handset

    Very nice. It would be nice if I could IM someone through a cell phone without being stuck in front of a computer.

    • You can. It's called SMS. If you're talking about 'chatting' through small messages, then most current phones also have that ability.
    • by spif (4749)
      Many new cell phones, especially smartphones, come with some kind of "true" IM capability in addition to SMS. For example I think pretty much every T-Mobile phone and device comes with AOL IM (blech). At least my new BlackBerry 7100t (sweeeet) did, and my wife's new Motorola V300. The 7100t's IM client also does Yahoo Messenger and ICQ, apparently, although I've never used it. So if you're into that sort of thing, it's available. I think Verizon phones have MSN IM capability. Not sure about Cingular
      • I was surprised when a friend of mine found out that our phones, Sony Ericsson T610, has a built in AIM client that's not enabled by default. If you open the hidden service menu (press -> *
        - ?Add to buddy list
        - ?Alert when buddy is online?
        - ?You have a new IM
        - ?AIM: Online
        - ?AIM: Offline

        I guess this function is only available on certain branded phones.
        • Cough cough, let's try that again:

          I was surprised when a friend of mine found out that our phones, Sony Ericsson T610, has a built in AIM client that's not enabled by default. If you open the hidden service menu (press -> * <- <- * <- *) you can see all the strings in the phone software, and there are some AIM-specific ones. A few examples:

          - ?Add to buddy list
          - ?Alert when buddy is online?
          - ?You have a new IM
          - ?AIM: Online
          - ?AIM: Offline

          I guess this function is only available on cer
      • There is a Java IM client, called Colibry IM [jabber.ru], that supports most major networks, IIRC AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo, and Jabber. It should work on most phones with Java and GPRS.
    • I think you mean cordless phone, since that's what the Gigaset phones are. As one of the replies pointed out you can text message with cell phones, but unfortuneately he failed to note that the cell phone companies insist of charging you to do that. I guess the IMing would be limited to Skype IM?
    • It would be nice if I could IM someone through a cell phone without being stuck in front of a computer

      I have unlimited AOL IM on my Nextel for $5/mo. I think Cingular also offers the service.
    • You can already use mJabber on a capable phone, but I use Chatopus on my PDA, since I can't stand the tiny phone screen.
  • Having a phone is relatively expensive here (at least compared to how little I actually use it). This makes it easier to switch to voip. :-)
  • What's the problem? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dancin_Santa (265275) <DancinSanta@gmail.com> on Friday November 12, 2004 @03:08AM (#10796138) Journal
    So here's my dilemma. I look across the ocean and see that Eastern countries like Japan and Korea have VoIP integrated directly into the phone network. None of this "plug the doodad into the USB port and talk through the cheap Soundblaster microphone" crap. You actually just use the phone like your normal phone and it automatically uses VoIP for all calls.

    The charges for long distance are apparently very low, though not eliminated, altogether. This is the only benefit I can see to strapping a headset on and sitting in front of your computer rather than walking around with a normal 2.4GHz cordless phone.

    But what's the hold up? Why can't the Western countries get their technologies up to speed with Eastern countries? You can't tell me that it's a problem of "vast spaces" because this is a problem at the central switching network level, not something esoteric like bandwidth falloff.

    You may think that the Asians are supreme copycats, but when it comes to technology, sometimes I wish that the West would copycat right back.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12, 2004 @03:23AM (#10796190)
      Ask and I shall answer, from Japan. (Or, post a comment, and I shall karma whore. Well, maybe not, posting AC.)

      I look across the ocean and see that Eastern countries like Japan and Korea have VoIP integrated directly into the phone network.

      A bit of an over simplification, but for the most part, true. Gramma can use it without second thoughts, and it doesn't require a computer.

      The charges for long distance are apparently very low, though not eliminated, altogether. This is the only benefit I can see to strapping a headset on and sitting in front of your computer rather than walking around with a normal 2.4GHz cordless phone.

      A bit wrong. VoIP calls from a standard phone ARE FREE, any where in Japan, as long as the recipient is also using VoIP from the same company. If they're not, such as using a different VoIP provider, or a traditional land line, then you are charged a small (much smaller than traditional land-line to land-line calls) surcharge for the call. However, different VoIP providers (who are actually over glorified ISPs) in Japan are slowly but certainly forming alliances with each other to honor each other's "free call" offers. Either way, the great thing is that I can use my VoIP phone to call anyone else with a VoIP phone for free, or if they have a standard land line, for next to free. I can also make very cheap phone calls to my Mom in Colorado, but don't tell her that. She'll start complaining that I don't call often enough.

      But what's the hold up? Why can't the Western countries get their technologies up to speed with Eastern countries?

      In Japan, this has actually been a rare case. Beauracracy in Japan is the same, if not worse, than it is in the U.S., with extreme corporate favoritism. I think what happened here is that NTT, the Japante telecom semi-monopoly learned from the past. Local phone calls are not free in Japan. They still aren't. So when the internet first came around, people wouldn't use it too much, in fear of the phone bill. The users, and the gov't saw this as a really bad thing though, because the internet was seen as a way to boost the suffering Japanese economy. Good idea. So they got NTT to create a method where you sign up for a single number (your ISP, or your best friend, whatever your purpose was) and from 10:00PM to 7:00AM or something like that, you could call all you want for free. A nudge became a push, and soon we had the same system, but this time 24/7 to that specific phone number. Then came ADSL, which made this entire idea obsolete.

      NTT probably saw the direction of VoIP, used a bit of hind-sight, and figured there wasn't a point in battling with it. Especially with other telecom players coming into town and slowly knawing away on the monopoly. So instead of a slow, agonizing death, NTT has decided to jump straight into the VoIP business. All phones will be VoIP in Japan, in a few years. And this includes NTT's own. They currently have a different area code just for VoIP, that starts with 050, which is used by various VoIP providers. This is really cool, because I can call a friend using VoIP, from my 3G cell phone, and vice versa, even if his computer is turned off.

      You may think that the Asians are supreme copycats, but when it comes to technology, sometimes I wish that the West would copycat right back.

      You have a point. The US still innovates, but not as much as they used to. Asia isn't innovating as much, but they are much more than they used to. Common brand beers in Tokyo actually taste better than anything in the U.S. such as Budweiser and Miller. (I know, there are great microbrews in the U.S., but there are in Japan too.) There is one thing, however, just one thing that I crave so bad for that I can't get over here: QUALITY TURKEY GRAVY!!!!!!!
      • There is one thing, however, just one thing that I crave so bad for that I can't get over here: QUALITY TURKEY GRAVY!!!!!!!

        You see, you just need to use:

        http://www.qualityturkeygravy.co.jp

        instead of:

        http://www.qualityturkeygravy.com

      • by slashing1 (818431)
        Actually, the Japanese bureaucracy differs from the U.S. pretty dramatically in a couple of ways. First of all, the Japanese actually perceive bureaucratic jobs as prestigious. As such, despite the pay differential, the government still attracts and retains the high achievers from schools. For readers not from the U.S., Americans typically associate bureaucratic jobs with job-security and ineffective performance.

        Secondly, while many Americans believe that the government is hopelessly in bed with corporate

      • You have a point. The US still innovates, but not as much as they used to.

        US != "The West". We are a couple of contries here in little teenie weenie Europe also...
      • Did someone say gravy? [foodnetwork.com] I can't believe anyone would actually buy gravy... You do know what it's made from, right?
    • by Per Wigren (5315) on Friday November 12, 2004 @03:25AM (#10796194) Homepage
      I've had VoIP at home for more than a year here in Sweden. I have a small box sitting between my DSL-modem and my normal phone. Calls to other persons within my ISPs network are completly free. Calls to other VoIP-providers are extremly cheap. Calls to legacy phones are cheaper than with any legacy phonecompany.

      • Just like Vonage's service here. You plug their box in between the cable/dsl modem, and your router. Then you plug your phone into the box. Oh, my verizon bill is like $45 with no long distance. You can get unlimited calling with Vonage for like 25.
    • Who modded this insightful?

      The whole point of the whole damn story is that someone made a connector so you can use your normal cordless phone on skype's voip network wiht the "cheap Soundblaster microphone crap".

      "You actually just use the phone like your normal phone and it automatically uses VoIP for all calls." --
      exactly..thats just what you do here. The only difference is you have the option.

      Its only 0.02 euros per minute for many major countries.

      The rates for all countries are here [skype.com]
    • Back in the dark old days of before JFK to date (got to use something the US folks understand (grins)), the GPO (General Post Office) in the UK ruled everything. They could if they wished walk into your house and take away your tape recorder (reel to reel of course) or anything else if they thought you were
      transmitting something they didnt approve of. Even if they were wrong, you'd normally get said kit back mangled because they weren't the nice guys (there I did say that nicely don't you think (grins)).

      S
      • Back in the dark old days of before JFK to date (got to use something the US folks understand (grins))

        I agree, you really should have used something the US folks understand. I get the "Back in the dark old days" part, but then you have something like a compound prepositional phrase, "of before JFK." To me, "of JFK" would suggest the dark old days were during his time in office, whereas "before JFK" would suggest the time leading up to that. I suppose there could be arguments that either time period was

    • by Gulthek (12570)
      Dude, my wife and I use VoIP as our landline. Our regular phones plug straight into the phone wall outlets and in every respect act just like regular phones...except that calls to the US and Canada are completely free. Long distance calls are also dirt cheap, to China for 15 cents a minute! 15 cents a minute! I remember when that was a tag line for long distance in the US!

      We use the VoIP service from Time Warner Cable in NC [timewarnercable.com].

      It's just a little black box plugged into a dedicated cable line and then into a p
    • This doesn't necessarily apply to Japan and (assuming you meant South) Korea, but I would expect that VoIP would be used more by "poorer" countries as they begin to develop, even though we in developed countries tend to see it as a luxury or a toy that is unfit for general use (regardless of the truth, that's the perception).

      For example, let's look at Iraq. Cell phones are going to be huge, right? Because there's no existing landline infrastructure that they're tied to. And since VoIP is superior (in
    • In France we have a cable company called free.fr. For around $20/month, from one box you get 10MB/s Internet, dozens of TV channels, and free land-line calls across the entire of the country (calling both VoIP and normal fixed lines) using any off-the shelf phone which you can plug in. Calling internationally bills at 2 cents / min.

      The UK are lagging behind, BT offering free calls nationally including fixed-line [bbc.co.uk] but using their crappy software and a computer mike/speaker :-(

      Phillip.
  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Friday November 12, 2004 @03:13AM (#10796159)
    I think they really missed the point. What the educated user wants is a box that you plug your phone into one end, and that you plug the other end into your Ethernet router. Not something that you have to plug into a USB port on a computer.

    Heck, at almost no extra cost it could even include a small router(that could be disabled), so if the customer doesn't already have a router they just plug their computer into the box rather than the other way around. This just makes sense on so many levels, where as using a USB connection through a computer (and the required software that must go along with it) is really ugly.

    • by DarthBart (640519) on Friday November 12, 2004 @03:39AM (#10796243)
      Already built. Grandstream makes the HT486 [grandstream.com]. Plug a phone in one port, one port goes to your cable modem, other port is NATed to your local lan.
    • What *I* want is the ability to use my computer's modem port as a regular old phone jack, and to route calls directly from my computer. Or, for multiple lines, throw in another ethernet card and route it to a multi-line phone system.

      But, then again, nobody asked me.

    • There are already a dozen Vonage clones in the market. Skype is doing something different that meets different needs. Since Skype doesn't require any hardware, they got millions of users in a short time. Now stuff like this Siemens gizmo allow people to use regular phones to talk to all those Skype users.
      • Since Skype doesn't require any hardware, they got millions of users in a short time. Now stuff like this Siemens gizmo allow people to use regular phones to talk to all those Skype users.

        If your point is Skype doesn't require any hardware and that matters to someone, then they stick with the PC and software solution. But if Skype is going to offer hardware, it should be a full hardware solution that takes the VoIP data and can connect to any other VoIP system. And yes, I knew there were other hardware so

    • The other problem is that they didn't really address the problem at all:

      some comments expressed displeasure with the fact that you have to be tied up to your computer to make those VOIP calls via Skype. Not anymore - this adapter from Siemens plugs into the USB port of the computer

      Call me crazy, but having to be plugged into the computer sounds pretty fucking much like being tied to the computer.

  • by Biomechanical (829805) on Friday November 12, 2004 @03:33AM (#10796220) Homepage
    ...Shadowrun, the pencil and paper role play game (ignoring the whole mysticism aspect), or read William Gibson's books?

    VoIP communications proliferating around the western world, phones with 3D-accelerated chipsets, desktops with 3D environments, UI's that operate via trodes on the skin, WAN's LAN's and PAN's integrating hardware, software, and wetware...

    The technology is getting very cool. Now if only we can keep the politics out.

    I can see a day when your ISP will link to another ISP via Wi-Max (or an equivelant tech), and another ISP, and another... creating an independant Internet not reliant on a wired and "restrained by Big Brother" infrastructure.

    Your phone calls will be over VoIP through either your PC, PDA, or mobile phone. Your email will be routed through independant nodes remaining detached from governmental or multinational corporate infrastructure.

    The space program will progress to the degree where many more privately owned satellites will be launched into space and create a global network that overcomes the latency and dataflow problems of satellite sheerly through it's if not anything else.

    People, technically minded ones, will drive for more "personally empowering" software - mainly communications software that increases the speed, scope, and deliverable nature of all manner of data.

    We will encounter a "wall" where the government tries to grasp control of this exponentially growing network, and the wall will be broken through.

    These are strange days for tech. Big companies are embracing technology for the soul purpose of squeezing every dollar, pound, and euro out of it, while the public and the publically minded private enterprises are pushing for person-orientated tech.

    We are looking at the beginning of a technological cold-war.

    It's between you who would use the technology available to you to better your life, and those who would have you remain ignorant - eating happy sound-bites and tasting media tidbits.

    Good for Siemens. I like it when companies put out useful tech. Hopefully they will produce more of this kind of technology in the future.
    • I can see a day when your ISP will link to another ISP via Wi-Max (or an equivelant tech), and another ISP, and another... creating an independant Internet not reliant on a wired and "restrained by Big Brother" infrastructure. This already happens, in Australia, at least. Here, we have a particularly dominant carrier - Telstra - that owns the very great lion's share of the country's telecom infrastructure. As a result, peering 'internet exchanges' (IXs) have been set up in every state, which serve as centr
  • Close, but no cigar. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lennart78 (515598) on Friday November 12, 2004 @03:36AM (#10796231)
    Props to Siemens for being the first to jump on this bandwagon, but why still use the 'plain old phone'?

    Nowadays, World+Dog has a PC with built in WiFi and Bluetooth support. Or else you buy an USB adapter at the local supermarket. Instead of using a telephone to access skype, use a Bluetooth headset like this one: http://www.thinkgeek.com/computing/speakers/headse ts/65ff/ [thinkgeek.com]

    It shouldn't be too hard to program a speech-to-text interface to allow you to "call" one of your contacts by speaking the name. And if you don't want to be caught speechdialing, there must be other alternatives. You could run a small program on your cellphone to control skype while walking around the house.

    The solution Siemens offered here is a nice way to cut costs on long distances calls, but not really groundbreaking. I'd like to see a company build an 'out-of-the-box' remote solution for Skype.
  • Linux drivers ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dago (25724) on Friday November 12, 2004 @03:37AM (#10796236)
    In fact, this is more generally a DECT interface for computers, with the SDK, you can basically make software to run on your (siemens) portable phone and only be limited by your imagination.

    If only there was linux drivers ...

  • by iceteep (771873) on Friday November 12, 2004 @04:16AM (#10796337)
    I've been reading about Skype recently but have not got around to installing it. I believe it was written by the same people who wrote Kazaa. That set off a few alarm bells for me. Anyone know of any security/spyware issues? What are your experiences of running it on Linux?
    • Quote from skype.com:

      "I knew it was over when I downloaded Skype," Michael Powell, chairman, Federal Communications Commission, explained. "When the inventors of KaZaA are distributing for free a little program that you can use to talk to anybody else, and the quality is fantastic, and it's free - it's over. The world will change now inevitably."
      Fortune Magazine, February 16, 2004
    • by ortcutt (711694) on Friday November 12, 2004 @04:50AM (#10796435)
      There aren't any spyware concerns. The business model for Skype is based on charging for Skype-to-POTS calls not on spyware like Kazaa. There are always security concerns when you run any network software, but I haven't heard of any exploits.
    • Kazaa was originally developed to be free of any spyware/adware. Only after it got bought by Charman Networks, they had started bundling a bunch of crap with it. If my memory serves me, the original Kazaa developers got pissed off at it, quit the company and founded Skype. So there you go. Skype is free from any malware for the time being. Hopefully it stays this way in the future.
    • They did not invent Kazaa. They invented the networking technology on which Kazaa is based, that is called Fastrack.
  • Don't hype Skype (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SYRanger (590202) on Friday November 12, 2004 @04:19AM (#10796344)
    There are open standards for Voice over IP, and Skype does not use them [stefangeens.com] - they try to "hijack" the VoIP-market with their own proprietary standard.
    • "they try to "hijack" the VoIP-market with their own proprietary standard."

      Seeing as how they cannot become a de-facto standard without a willing market to support them, is the term "hijack" a little strong?
    • by adolf (21054)
      Right.

      The world would be far better off if everyone installed Linux on a spare computer so they could run Asterisk [asterisk.org]. You then just need to buy a bunch of hardware [digitnetworks.com], and then either spend a few hundred dollars each on WiFi phones, or spend tens of hours recabling your house.

      Oh, and then you get to configure the mess, after learning all about such eccentricities as G.711, G.723.1, GSM, IAX, and SIP, SCCP, plus a whole lot of other defacto telephony standards and Ways Of Doing Things that were obviously devel
      • Asterisk is a soft PBX; normal people don't have PBXes, thus normal people would never install Asterisk.

        If you want to call other people for free using the Internet standard SIP protocol, FWD [freeworlddialup.com] provides some free, apparently easy-to-use software to do it. If you want to call real phones, several non-shady VoIP companies offer SIP softphones, although it looks like most people who are paying for SIP service prefer to have a hardware ATA.
        • Right. Sarcasm must be absent in whatever your native country is, but I'll bite anyway:

          Somehow, I doubt that Vonage is likely to be very willing to support me when I can't call out from Kphone on my Gentoo machine. So I, along with the rest of the world who would rather talk on the phone instead of spend all day trying to make the bloody thing work, will either be using one of their hardware ATAs, or whatever software they supply.

          It's a magic black box that just works. I'm OK with that.

          But if we're do
  • I know that some of those Siemens phones are actually standard DECT devices which in theory means they can interoperate. In other words, once a handset is registered to the base, it can be used no matter who it comes from.
  • by freitasm (444970) on Friday November 12, 2004 @06:07AM (#10796632) Homepage
    There are some companies offering USB adapters for any handset and any computer: http://www.geekzone.co.nz/content.asp?contentid=36 71

    The Siemens model works only with a few handset models made by Siemens only... Pretty close I'd say.
  • The summary lists a bunch of Siemens handsets that this adapter is compatible with. Siemens' website doesn't mention any compatible phones. Does anyone know whether it would be compatible with my Gigaset 8800? It's part of an expandable phone system, so maybe not.

    If not, where could I find a RJ-11-to-VoIP converter for my base station? The system has 2 lines, so I could convert one to VoIP and use the other as a normal land-line. Cool!
    • If not, where could I find a RJ-11-to-VoIP converter for my base station?

      check out a SIPPhone Call-in-One [sipphone.com]. It appears to do a good job of combining a land line and a VoIP line onto one phone or extension cable. What sounds great - you connect your regular analog phone. To dial normally, just dial normally. To dial using VoIP, press # to switch to the VoIP line and then dial! Almost easy enough for Grandma to use!

  • by tuxedobob (582913) * <tuxedobob AT mac DOT com> on Friday November 12, 2004 @06:42AM (#10796710)

    (To Skype itself, not the accessory.)

    It must meet these, Skype's current basic functions:

    1. Be able to use a computer microphone/headset.
    2. Be able to use Mac or Linux also.
    3. Be able to call for free another user (not out to traditional phone).
    4. Be able to call a traditional phone (for a fee: 1.7 cents/min in US and most of Europe, I think).

    I'm very tempted to give up my cell phone over this. We have no landline phone here, either. My wife has a cell phone, just in case.

    (Side note: why doesn't /. allow the cent sign (AKA option-4)?

  • by usheletz (78954)
    Olymia DU@Lphone [dualphone.net], actually manufactured by RTX [www.rtx.dk]
    Allows to do both Skype and land-line calls, implements DECT standard.
    Base station intrefaces via USB to PC and RJ-11 to PSTN. Better than Siemens product in the way, that it does not require a separate DECT base station to do PSTN calls.
    As well as Siemens Gigaset M34 USB , does not have drivers for anything but Windows. I don't think the drivers will be available, because unlike Siemens RTX does not have a signed partnership with Skype.
    Said to be available
  • I can't see much of an advantage to the Skype-to-Landline service as opposed to a cell phone...except for cheap international calls...

    In the US, most cell phones come with unlimited nights and weekends. $45/month on a national plan with Cingular/AT&T (one of many that offer the same kind of plans) will get you about 300 minutes of daytime minutes per month. And some companies are already offering free incoming calls...

    Most people are either working or in school during the day, so the limited daytime
    • Long distance calls don't have to be international.
      The plans you mention probably only include local calls. If you're outside your city then you get roaming costs, and if you call someone on a different city it's a long distance call, which I'm sure won't cost 2 cents a minute.
      Oh and if you travel much, you can call from anywhere in the world to anywhere in the US for the same 2 cents a minute.
      Plus, I bet many Skype users are outside the US. I can call any city in the US from Mexico for 2 US cents a m
      • I don't know how many will see this...the thread is over a week old, but the plans I mentioned all include free long distance within the US and the national plans treat the whole US as your local calling area, so night and weekend minutes still don't count even if you're on the other side of the country.
  • Skype (with this setup) is largely (let's face it) for calling POTS users. But is there a way to make a call from one of these Gigaset handsets to a Skype user, so you don't have to pay anything, or does it only have a number-pad, so you're locked into paying the 2.x Eurocents per minute?

  • DECT (digital enhanced cordless telephony) is the ETSI (european) standard for cordless phones (roughly, it describes two 64K channels (I think?), and an authentication "pairing" mechanism -- in fact, Bluetooth adopted some of the architectural features of DECT).

    The great thing about DECT/GAP systems is that they are interoperable: so you buy a base station, and can pair additional handsets: even if the handsets are from another manufacturer -- it really works. In the UK, a single handset DECT handset/stat

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