Wi-Fi Cell Phones - Why I Don't Need One

Being a gadget freak, and always on the lookout for new toys, I'm keen to get one of the emerging combined VoIP+WiFi / Cellular phones. But practically speaking, I think the market for these devices is relatively small, and limited to niche vertical enterprises. Here's my argument: the hybrid phone proposes to allow a user to switch between the "expensive" cellular networks, and WiFi networks, which according to CNet, would allow people to "shift call minutes that would otherwise count against a cell phone plan onto the Internet." However, according to a study announced today by TNS Telecoms, "78 percent of the wireless minutes paid for by consumers go unused on a monthly basis." Essentially, carriers have competed so aggressively on offering larger and larger buckets of minutes that few people end up using their minutes. So why would such customers care if they could shift usage from their unconsumed cellular plans to VoWiFi? Sure, there are niches where people will care: international callers, international travelers, corporations with internal WiFi PBX systems, etc, but as I said, these are either niche, or vertical enterprise. Also, don't forget the hurdles: seamless handoff is still not proven, battery life under Wifi suffers, and (damn!) I still have trouble logging-on to some WiFi Hotspots with my full laptop and 5 minutes...now I'm supposed to be able to waltz in to Starbucks with my hybrid phone and connect without the conversation missing a beat? For the next few years, sign me up as skeptical.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: wifi, wi-fi


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Jon, 5 Aug 2004 @ 4:35pm

    Shifting minutes .. . why not

    Interesting comments about unused minutes. Would users be able could subscribe to a lower package? Maybe. Long distance and International could be significant. There are also frequent talk about seamless handoff. Is that a show-stopper? It would be great but would user put up with a non-handoff situation? Time would tell. Jon

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Essential Reading
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.