[AI] Say hello to multimode mobile phones
vkafle at gmail.com
Sun Jan 20 01:36:01 EST 2008
Say hello to multimode mobile phones
Kyocera's Indian engineers have created a combined cellular-WiFi device
Bangalore: India's galloping cellphone statistics - nearly 230 million mobile handsets are in use today - have created special needs and customer wish lists.
This is a nation of dual cellphone standards: the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) and the rival Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA). The
coverage of the two competing technologies is pretty much national - but there are pockets where one or the other is better.
Which is why an estimated eight per cent of Indian customers have two phones registered in their name - and many of them see sense in 'hedging their bets',
having one CDMA phone and the other GSM.
Carrying two handsets is no joke - which is why service providers are offering dual mode phones for those who can afford the asking price of Rs. 10,000-12,000.
SpiceMobile was the first last year to offer two dual phone models, one of which took two GSM SIM cards and the other, one GSM and one CDMA SIM card.
The user can switch easily from one to the other mode and receive calls on both services. Almost at the same time, Tata Indicom launched a Samsung dual
phone which took any combination of SIMs. Since then having one phone to do the job of two has struck more Indians as a 'cool' idea.
Dual or multimode can assume an entirely different meaning in other geographies: In the U.S., a dual phone means a handset which can handle both the older
technology of analogue TDMA (Time division Multiple Access) and the digital CDMA technology.
In the rest of the world, the dual phone is something people are still waiting for: a handset which makes and takes calls using the cellular network (CDMA
or GSM) as well as the Internet telephone system known as WiFI, a cheaper and very often free service.
The cellular-WiFi phone was unveiled at the recently concluded Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, when a few handset makers showed off prototypes -
but at next month's World Mobile Congress in Barcelona, one can expect actual product launches. A slight edge
Indians have a slight edge here. Engineers at the Bangalore Engineering Development centre of Kyocera Wireless (India), a subsidiary of the San Diego, California-based
parent, have helped to craft a dual mode mobile phone which uses a single number to make both CDMA-based cellular calls and Voice over Internet Protocol
(VoIP) calls using the nearest WiFi network or hot spot.
It is in final stages of testing and the product is likely to find its first market in the U.S.
It is expected that as wireless hot spots become more common, WiFi-enabled cellphones will explode in demand. ABI Research predicts there will be more than
300 million in use by 2011 - and, thanks to Kyocera's Indian researchers, many of them may sport some Indian DNA.
"India possesses great technical competence and a tremendous talent pool to help our global vision," Kyocera Wireless president Rodney Lanthorne said in
Bangalore a few days ago.
He announced an imminent addition of 800 engineers at the India centre and lauded the teams that had totally created four designs being used in India as
well as in Latin America, Africa and the U.S. These include the popular entry phone K 122 being offered with the Tata service.
The Indian centre has also created the fastest text messaging tool in Hindi. What can one say to that except sending them an SMS: Jai Hind, shabash, guys!
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