Microsoft and VoWiFi

20 Feb ’06

A few days ago I posted on some new dual mode cellular and VOIP over wifi handsets that were announced at 3GSM. The news is also spreading now that Steve Ballmer announced at 3GSM that the new Office Communicator suite will have the ability to do VOIP over Wi-Fi from Windows Mobile enabled celphones. The articles and posts discussing the effect on the cel operators seem liberally strewn with phrases like “wreak havoc” and “revenues will plunge”.

Mathew Ingram has some thoughts on the implications for cel operators and others (think Skype and eBay). With muniwifi exploding in popularity in the U.S the threat to operators there seems real, and the need to adapt imminent. In Canada, however, public access wifi is still largely a non-event, and there are (quite frustratingly) only pale glimmers of any development on that front in the foreseeable future (the group Wireless Toronto is gamely doing its part). I would think that any effort to develop it here on an extensive scale will be fiercely resisted by the cel operators, who are of course very much involved in the provision of the broadband that would serve bandwidth to any other wifi provider.

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