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Wireless Industry Cozying Up To the Disruptors 32

PreacherTom writes, "As recently as a few months ago, the wireless industry showed little apparent interest in partnering with companies like Sling, Skype, and ISkoot. After all, they make products that threaten to compete with services that mobile-phone companies are eager to sell. Times are changing, at first in Europe and perhaps soon in the U.S. A few days ago, Sling Media's CEO sat down with execs from Hutchison Whampoa, Nokia, and Sony Ericsson for discussions. Skype isn't far behind, while ISkoot is in 'advanced discussions.' According to analyst Krishna Kanagarayer, 'This could turn the U.S. wireless industry on its head. The advent of mobile access to full-blown home PC and TV applications could lead to a revamp in pricing of wireless service providers' data plans, possibly to tiered pricing. And as applications such as mobile Skype take hold, data and voice use will become indistinguishable.'"
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Wireless Industry Cozying Up To the Disruptors

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  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @06:42PM (#16941000) Homepage Journal

    The mesh-network internet is coming, sooner or later (my money being on later, especially in this country, but my point still stands) and any wireless provider who doesn't have a piece of it will be irrelevant. When WiFi connectivity is as ubiquitous as the cellular network, or frankly even before that, people will go to WiFi+VoIP in droves because it won't require that you, like, spend any money. What could be better than that?

    This is of course why providers are willing to sell cellphones with WiFi. At least that way they get some money out of the hardware.

    • Critical mass (Score:3, Insightful)

      First off, the apparent lack of interest thus far is only that, an **apparent** lack of interest. They've probably being cuddling in private for many years, just waiting for the right moment.

      There is also a good reason to hold hack a bit. Nobody wants to flood the world with gear that goes obsolete very quickly. If they'd been trying to roll these plans out even two years back, the whole scheme would have flopped. It is better to hold back a bit until the critical mass/killer app point is reached. Also, a c

    • What's all this about WiFi?

      I thought the whole idea with Mesh phones was that they connect directly to each other or route via intermediary Mesh phones. The WiFi thing was only supposed to be a stop-gap for calls between cities or until enough people had mesh phones and we reached a critical density where the cellular carriers became unnecessary. I have no idea how the routing would work, but that's what I thought the idea was.

      If this is, indeed, the way that it is supposed to work, then I doubt Mesh pho
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        While all too fascinating of a science project, mesh networks (or at least exclusively mesh networks) are NOT designed to (despite claims of the vendors) and will never become any sort of carrier class service.

        From the random rules of behavior, you are going to leave someone without service when enough of the mesh migrates from one side of their map to another. You can not sell services which you might or might not have depending on what your neighbors are doing. That's a theoretical communal network at bes
        • by suggsjc ( 726146 )
          Correct. However, the next-gen "mesh service providers" could build out lots of intermediate stationary nodes. On top of telephone poles (I know unlikely) or some other place. That could provide a basic amount of coverage. However, the beauty of mesh networking is that as more people come into an area, the bandwidth will increase. Shared spectrum works just the opposite...more people, less per person.

          Now, whether or not that pipe dream will ever come about? Your guess is as good as mine. The concep
  • Communication (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @06:52PM (#16941136) Journal
    Most people don't really understand what the whole internet idea is, in its most basic form. They only realize what it can do for them by the services it offers (web, email, bitorrent etc). When one realizes what the Internet truly offers, communication, then it becomes clear what what the possibilities truly are.

    Anything that can be imagined as getting two things talking to each other is the basics of the Internet, everything else is specifics. Wireless, Optical, copper are all mediums for that communication, nothing more, nothing less.

    As mediums become more ubiquitous, and as they start to overlap, it just provides greater continuity of the communication which enables forms of communication that were previously impossible without the overlap and continuity.

    Something I once discovered for my self (though in a completely unrelated sector), is that if it takes too long to do something, you just don't do it. If it takes 7 days to download a movie (dialup) while it is possible to do it, most people didn't. Now that it takes a couple of hours or less, people are starting to consider it. A couple of years ago, it took 6 hours to encode a CD to MP3, now it takes just a few minutes.

    Because of the increase in bandwith, the ubiquitous connection, we are starting to see new means of communication which were impossible only a few years ago. It is inevitable. And things that take days or long hours today, will shortly be available for the average person. Those are the things we should be looking at.
    • by zombor ( 933849 )
      A couple of years ago, it took 6 hours to encode a CD to MP3, now it takes just a few minutes.

      Eh? back in 99, I had my whole CD collection ripped at at least 24x, taking no more than 10-20 minutes each...
      • Eh? Okay time flies when you're having fun. ;-) Not all of us had top of the line PIIIs when CD ripping became cool. Ahhh good times.
        • by LilGuy ( 150110 )
          True. When MP3s FIRST started taking off I was still using my 486dx2 with a whopping 32 megs of ram. I continued to use that system for another year after discovering MP3s. Ripping was pretty much infeasible so I used napster (later on when I found it) for all my mp3 and music, in general, needs.
    • by colmore ( 56499 )
      "A couple of years ago, it took 6 hours to encode a CD to MP3, now it takes just a few minutes."

      Sorry to be annoying, but you hit on one of my pet peeves. "A couple" means two. No more, no less.

      MP3 encoding hasn't been a multi-hour excursion since the early days of the Pentium-I.
  • by duranaki ( 776224 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @06:54PM (#16941170)
    I don't want them to cozy up.. I want them to fight tooth and nail to keep their over-priced our-services-or-no-services mentality until they are driven out of business.
  • by From A Far Away Land ( 930780 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @06:57PM (#16941222) Homepage Journal
    I didn't know that Skype could phone Kronos. Those Klingon disrupters shouldn't be put up to your ear though.
  • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @07:00PM (#16941276)
    And as applications such as mobile Skype take hold, data and voice use will become indistinguishable.

    Not if the Baby Bells and the likes of SBC/AT&T have anything to say about it.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I don't think the blanket statement regarding the wireless industry not being interested in alternate solutions is at all true- not as a whole industry. For the wireless carriers, it's 100% true; for handset manufacturers (who are the prisoners of the carriers, especially in NA), they'd absolutely love to make inroads on any other services. They have a tightrope to walk though; go to far (ie be to threatening) and the carriers will just refuse to buy that model, or other models, or just slow their accepta
  • by troll -1 ( 956834 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @07:09PM (#16941422)
    The industry needs to get out of the old 20th century phone system mentality and become part of the Internet. I bought a Treo 650 from Sprint a while back. Recently I switched to Cingular but had to buy another phone because the one from Sprint doesn't work on Cingular's network.

    Could you imagine if the Internet had been designed and implemented by private industry? It would be a whole bunch of separate networks and you'd be nickel and dimed for every service.

    Phone systems are just plain dumb.
  • as it should be (Score:4, Insightful)

    by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @07:24PM (#16941676) Homepage
    And as applications such as mobile Skype take hold, data and voice use will become indistinguishable.

    As it should be. I think most of us here have only been waiting for this to happen for about 10 years. The fact that it's gone on for so long like it has is actually kind of surprising. (or not, depending on how cynical you are about corprate profiteering)
  • There are two basic problems to the Internet replacing the phone system.

    The first is basic functionality and reliability. Right now people put up with disconnects all the time on data connections. What? That page didn't load? Click it again! To some extent, the software could make up for some failures simply with more and better error handling rather than just dumping it out on the user. But that doesn't solve the problem 100%.

    The second is an economic one. Most of the telecommunications that the Inte
    • "The first is basic functionality and reliability. Right now people put up with disconnects all the time on data connections. What? That page didn't load? Click it again!"
      I could not agree more.

      "Most of the telecommunications that the Internet relies on was bought and paid for because of telephone services."
      I somewhat disagree. Much of today's telephone infrastructure was put in with TAXPAYER money. Telephone, cable, and other utilities are MONOPOLIES that effectively charge whatever they think they can g
    • by wall0159 ( 881759 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @10:29PM (#16944084)
      This is true however the largest connectivity cost is the "last mile" of cable. Once the internet moves from it's present state towards localised mesh-networks, that are interconnected by fiber/whatever, then most of the cost of that last mile disappears.
  • Misleading Summary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mpapet ( 761907 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @08:07PM (#16942306) Homepage
    Wireless providers like cingular may add those features, but will do so at extremely high rent to end-users.

    Look at music download service provided by the wireless vendors. Bandwidth is very expensive for those mobile phones, so I expect slightly higher prices than Apple but not the ridiculous prices they have now.

    Mobile phones and the SIM chips in them have fantastic capabilities that can't be touched by entrepreneurs. Interoperability and outside innovaters are to be discouraged at all costs. The wireless providers like it that way. Java/j2me certainly didn't solve the problem.
    • Yep, Mobile service providers charge insane prices for everything, and the problem is (at least over here) that kids spend their money (or at least their parents money!) downloading ringtones, sending hundreds of text messages at 10p a go (though a lot of people obviously know about IM, it's not so convenient to IM on your phone due to high data prices, and not everyone having a capable phone), and probvably the music that you're talking about. I used to spend maybe £10-£20 a month on text messa
  • by CFD339 ( 795926 ) <andrewp AT thenorth DOT com> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @09:45PM (#16943652) Homepage Journal
    I have Verizon's EV-DO broadband for my laptop. For $60/mo I have 'unlimited' access that in most places is about comparable to average home DSL service. It sounds expensive, but if you consider that I travel -- take off hotel access fees, airport access fees, starbucks/borders/other hotspot fees -- or the hassle of war driving -- and it starts looking very good.

    I use it several days a week. It still has downsides - like all cheap service it suffers from "Gravity Well" syndrome. Inbound data is free, fast, and cheap. Output data is difficult, slow, and expensive.

    My point is, I'm already using the cell networks for more data than voice. A lot more. I could (if I wanted) make voip calls over the cell networks but why? It's just as cheap to do it by cell phone "out of band".

    What I really really wish for -- what would be WAY better -- is if telcos and wireless telcos would make use of DUNDi lookups. That would allow those of us with VOIP phones to receive calls which never transit the public networks. The cell carrier would check the DUNDi service and see that when dialing my number they could bypass the public network and just connect with a voip call directly.

    Most don't do this now. Even though it would save them money on cross-connection (after all, they have to connect to the PSTN as well) they're more afraid of being bypassed themselves then of spending the extra money.

    As a result, I have to pay a monthly fee essentially for the address routing which is my PSTN telephone number.
    • There are upside to using VoIP - true VoIP that is, as it is supposedly to be more efficient. As we speak, most networks are transitioning to enable this capability. The only thing is that most consumer think that VoIP should be either cheap or free. That's only true because of the way that most broadband services are marketed today - unlimited usage for a fixed fee. I believe this is ultimately not sustainable as not all resources are not unlimited. If priced on a per byte basis, a lot of this euphoric be
  • Only the smaller carriers are ready to embrace the open gardens approach of the internet. The bigger ones, the Vodafone's and Verizon's of the world will still fight tooth and nail to preserve their walled garden. Its their cash cow, and nobody is taking it from them. Not yet.

    They will do that only when they see that their subscriber base diminishing. And the data services will not entice users to these one's: the voice services will. The phone is still primarily used for talking, not surfing the web or vie
  • Bits are bits (Score:3, Informative)

    by superflippy ( 442879 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:55AM (#16949896) Homepage Journal
    as applications such as mobile Skype take hold, data and voice use will become indistinguishable

    One can only hope. This is my major beef with the US mobile carriers. Voice and data have been equal in the rest of the world since the 90's.

Computer programmers do it byte by byte.