Vonage Goes VoWiFi — How Big Is The Market?

from the maybe-possibly dept

Vonage is about to pick up quite a bit of press coverage for their unveiling of “plans” to offer a WiFi phone that will work with their service. It wasn’t a secret that they were working on such a plan, and it sounds like this isn’t so much a launch as it is a confirmation that they plan to launch it at some point (giving them an extra chance at getting some publicity). The phone, expected to cost about $100, will let subscribers use their Vonage VoIP accounts from WiFi hotspots, but there are a bunch of questions. While this does appear to be one of the first widely marketed attempts at consumer VoWiFi, it’s still not clear there’s really that much demand for this type of solution. Most people savvy enough to want one of these will already have a mobile phone. While it’s true that VoIP won’t eat up minutes the way cellular plans do, most cellular plans offer such large buckets of minutes and free long distance, making them effectively flat-rate as well. Even if the calls are international, things like VoIP bridges offer a reasonable solution for a mobile phone user who wants to make cheap international calls. Furthermore, it requires people to carry yet another device — and, in this case, one that probably has a fairly short battery life, considering the rate at which WiFi consumes power. It’s also unclear how the phone manages to log onto fee-based or subscription-based WiFi hotspots, without which the phones usefulness could be diminished even further. Also, it’s doubtful that these phones can handle handoff between different access points without dropping a call, which forces you to be somewhat stationary when using the phones. The whole thing is a bit reminiscent of the old Rabbit Phones in the UK. Yes, there are some people who will find it useful, but it’s likely to be a fairly small number. I could see it being useful for some people who just want to use it in their homes, but don’t want to go through the trouble of wiring a phone up to an adapter that’s across the home. Also, it would be easier than bringing along the adapter for someone who travels frequently to places with WiFi. However, it would seem that if anything along the lines of a VoWiFi solution would make sense, it would be much more likely to be something merged with a mobile phone so you would just carry around a single device. That means either having the carriers offer it (and that’s not likely any time soon — or with much enthusiasm if they ever get around to it, as they have no desire to eat away at their own minute plans) or letting people install a softphone on a smartphone that has WiFi.

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Comments on “Vonage Goes VoWiFi — How Big Is The Market?”

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Mamoo says:

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good to see that the new year hasn’t meant any change to the number of pointless investigations and reports showing the “discovery” of what most people knew already!

Anyway, how long will it be before these people stop running stupid investigations like this and actually go about finding ways of correcting their dated business plans? Or will some things really never change? So, whos up for producing an investigation into CD,movie,DVD sales(again)?!

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