Games and Interaction design

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Shadow of the telecoms colossus

Unable to deal with the shame of my filthy, scratched, slow, barely functioning old phone, I went shopping at the weekend to try and get something to replace it. I'd previously had the Nokia 6600, which was fine, but started going mad recently, so it was time to put it to sleep gently (well take it to the cellular knackers yard anyway). I'd been waiting to have a look at the P990 but grew impatient, and when out on Friday saw something that I was not aware was even available yet. A friend of a friend had a Windows Mobile 2003 phone, running Skype for pocket PC, and was using it for all his telephony. He was only using the phone company for GPRS. I had no idea that Skype now offer both in and out services for connection to regular phone networks, and at a reasonable price, too (20 quid a year for line-in, and low call charges for out). Combined with this, if you have a Wifi connection in your phone, theres no need to use the phone company at all, and if you know other people using skype, you dont even need line in and out. The Skype client integrates seamlessly with your address book, so you can just dial with Skype instead of a standard mobile call. As a result, I've picked up the rather tasty Orange M500, and a cheapo wifi card for it. Its one of the few PDA phones around that doesnt make you look like some some sort of cyber-businessman dickhead.

I've always greatly resented telecoms companies and the exortionate prices they charge for connections, so hopefully this will force them to drop their prices and create a new model for charging. Especially combined with developments over at Fon, a company that has just got 12 million euros from google and skype to set up their global wifi sharing network, a network that will allow you, once you set up sharing on your own wifi connection, to roam around the globe and get free access all over the place from other members of the network. Things are definitely changing. Theres no need to guess why Skype want to finance the operation.... Fon, if successful, will effectively build a free global VoIP network for Skype users.


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