Perhaps the most exciting news in VoIP yesterday was the little-covered announcement of Qualcomm supporting the Philips electronics WLAN module meaning the marriage of WiFi and cellular is coming. The integrated system will connect to WLAN networks as well as to existing cellular networks, featuring compatibility with 802.11b and 802.11g protocols on CDMA2000 and WCDMA (UMTS) networks.
At least the technology for dual-mode devices is falling into place. The question now is whether there will be a way for us to get at it. Will cellular providers help us in acquiring devices that allow us to speak not only on cellular networks but WiFi as well?
Sources tell me some service providers are warming to the idea while others are not so happy with it. In my opinion consumers will happily pay $10 or more per month for WiFi access on their devices. The biggest problem may be the tech support costs as WiFi networks are not necessarily run by the wireless service provider so NAT issues, poor service and other issues such as these will require tech support. This adds cost and complexity. Service providers may be better off charging a higher monthly fee for this privilege in the beginning.