Wednesday, February 15, 2006

inokyouwuss, inocuos, innocuous

It may look pretty innocuous but this phone may be a little glimpse into the future.

The Nokia 6136 connects to the normal mobile network, but has WiFi access built in as well, and theoretically will switch between the two without cutting you off. This means that if you're sitting in a WiFi enabled Starbucks drinking your smug fairtrade coffee, you can make a call using VoIP rather than the costly mobile network.

Of course it's not as simple as that. It won't connect to all wireless routers (Cisco and Alcatel only - so we're talking business hotspots here) plus even if it did you'd still need to pay for the WiFi access in Starbucks, or whatever cafe you're in. Contrary to what seems to be advertised everywhere, there is no such thing as free WiFi access in this country.

What I would like is a mobile phone that I can use instead of a home phone, using VoIP, and using my office's wireless LAN, and at any public hotspot I come across, and still be presented with just one bill - for my calls and rental. This is all possible using current technology, but it would require all the telecoms companies and ISPs to work together. So don't expect it any time soon. It may not be far off for France though - I visited France Telecom's R&D centre last year and this is certainly what they're aiming for. What with being an ISP and owning mobile operator Orange it might just work.

Still, it's not all bad. Maybe in this time wireless technology will mature a little, otherwise instead of "I'll call you back, I'm going through a tunnel" will just be replaced with "I'll call you back, I need to reboot my router".

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