Wi-Fi Phones Coming To Japan

Sharp is launching a Wi-Fi based voice-over-ip service for its Japanese Zaurus handhelds in April. Users need to subscribe to NTT’s Wi-Fi network and to Sharp’s service to make unlimited phone calls. Sharp hasn’t disclosed pricing but expects their service cost several hundred Yen per month in addition to NTT’s 1600 Yen ( ~$13) per month Wi-Fi subscription so the total could be around $20 per month. With limited Wi-Fi coverage and no mention of being able to receive calls we don’t see this service having much more than novelty appeal to early adopters. Any wireless voice service that is limited to specific buildings is not much more useful than a pay phone unless it is totally free. But the long term implications of Wi-Fi VoIP are interesting if Wi-Fi can overcome its range and power limitations.

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