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Microsoft To Offer Free Wireless VoIP 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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Microsoft To Offer Free Wireless VoIP

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  • by Tenk101 ( 938734 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @07:49AM (#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.
  • by madsen ( 17668 ) <madsenNO@SPAMiki.fi> on Monday February 20, 2006 @07:51AM (#14760114) Homepage
    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.
  • by acid_zebra ( 552109 ) <acidzebra&gmail,com> on Monday February 20, 2006 @08:01AM (#14760154) Homepage Journal
    "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:Hmm (Score:5, Informative)

    by dodobh ( 65811 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @08:23AM (#14760225) Homepage
    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
  • Skype has that (Score:5, Informative)

    by Britz ( 170620 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @08:24AM (#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]
  • Very good point. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <atd7.cornell@edu> on Monday February 20, 2006 @08:50AM (#14760314) Homepage
    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:Sounds Great (Score:4, Informative)

    by killjoe ( 766577 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @08:59AM (#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.
  • Over hyped much? (Score:2, Informative)

    by the-stringbean ( 884738 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @09:52AM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 20, 2006 @10:44AM (#14760814)
    The Gizmo project already has a STANDARDS based software phone that does this http://www.gizmoproject.com/ [gizmoproject.com] on Windows, Mac or Linux. No need to get stuck into a proprietary Skype or Microsoft ghetto.

  • Re:Anti-competitive? (Score:3, Informative)

    by OwlWhacker ( 758974 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @11:13AM (#14760978) Homepage Journal
    That would only be true if they had a monopoly on mobile phones OS, which I doubt.

    No, it wouldn't.

    Microsoft has an operating system monopoly, and therefore most people use its operating system.

    If most people use its operating system, they're also likely to use any bundled services that come with it (as they're free), rather than paying extra to use similar services elsewhere.

    Microsoft is 'leveraging its monopoly'. That's what it always does.

    For example: If Microsoft wanted the proprietary WMP file format to become a major standard used by most audio/video distributors, it could bundle its media player with Windows. WMP is then made available to most people (as most people have Windows), and Microsoft's file format immediately becomes the biggest audio/video format - and Microsoft doesn't have to compete at all, just bundle a product. Leverage.
  • by Dr. Evil ( 3501 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @02:42PM (#14762484)

    MS Communicator enters Microsoft into two areas:

    • VOIP
    • Corporate Instant Messaging and Collaboration

    The integration only works on MS OSes and in MS Office of course.

    Microsoft recently announced that they're going into the corporate mobile email business, competing with RIM.

    Microsoft announced that their mobile OS will support free wireless VOIP.

    So... the year is 2008. You fire up your new workplace computer, it comes up with MS Communicator. You can add all your buddies from your IM lists, and you can add all their cell phones for texting. You can also access your corporate email.

    Now you're looking at your cell phone plan and thinking "I sure wish I had a MS mobile phone so that I could use all these features from my cell phone. Free calling, corporate IM, corporate email integration... etc."

    That's how MS uses their OS monopoly to extend into the cellular market, entrench their corporate email solution, deepen their penetration of MS Office, while providing people the first reason to upgrade since Office 97.

    (BTW, I HATE real-time collaboration.)

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson