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Skype-Ready Phones From Motorola 217

Hack Jandy writes "Seamlessly integrating VoIP and GSM might not be a fantasy after all, as Motorola announced their decision to build cell phones and handsets that have Skype Internet Telephony integrated into the devices. Obviously, one could use Skype for outgoing calls near wi-fi hotspots (essentially free) but default on GSM for outgoing calls in areas that lack coverage."
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Skype-Ready Phones From Motorola

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  • Article Text (Score:5, Informative)

    by perlionex ( 703104 ) * <joseph&ganfamily,com> on Friday February 18, 2005 @02:10AM (#11708559) Homepage
    Motorola to Build "Skype Ready" Cell Phones, Headsets.
    Handset Maker Motorola to Build Skype into Phones
    by Anton Shilov

    Motorola, a leading maker of mobile phones, and Skype, a leading Internet telephony company, said this week at 3GSM World Congress that Motorola would launch a lineup of products that are dubbed "Skype Ready", including cell phones and handsets.

    The two companies will explore opportunities broadly across both companies, leveraging Motorola's strength in seamless mobility, advanced technologies, mobile devices and accessories and Skype's rapidly-growing global user base and rich voice and messaging communication tools. The initial focus of the collaboration will be on co-marketing of new optimized Motorola "Skype Ready" companion products, such as Bluetooth headsets, dongles, and speakerphones, as well as delivery of the Skype Internet Telephony experience on "select Motorola mobile devices".

    Peculiarities and specifications of "Skype Ready" products were not touched upon.

    Skype takes communications to a new and global era with its free, multi-faceted and rich communication tools, enabling users to make free, or very cheap, voice calls and rich messaging connections via the Internet. Skype currently has more than 25 million registered users.

    While headsets, dongles and speakerphones are natural enhancements for PCs or PDAs that have Skype installed on them, cell phones with Skype capability may usher a new era in mobile communications, as whenever users have Internet access, e.g., via WLAN or GPRS, they will be able to make long-distance calls at a price much lower compared to that offered by cellular network operators. Still, the cost of GPRS traffic from some operators particularly in the EU is very high and may limit benefits Skype provides in terms of cost.

    Motorola "Skype Ready" companion products are expected to be available in the first half of 2005.

    • Re:Article Text (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Good luck getting major carriers to pick these phones up.
      This creates direct competition with regular cell service.
      With an unsubsidized price, I don't think most people will find this option very attractive.

      Of course, this could also prove to be a tool for the Wireless carriers to help potential customers drop their landlines. If your house has wifi then you don't need to worry about cell minutes.

      I wonder how this will end up and how much they will cost.
  • Great for college! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by toetagger1 ( 795806 ) on Friday February 18, 2005 @02:12AM (#11708570)
    We got wifi here in most places. Be it academic, residential housing, or in appartments. Even most employers have wireless infrastructure now. Could this be a major threat to the current telecommunication infrastructure and the breaktrhough for Skype and VoIP?
  • New server? (Score:5, Funny)

    by perlionex ( 703104 ) * <joseph&ganfamily,com> on Friday February 18, 2005 @02:13AM (#11708572) Homepage
    From their website's about page []:
    We are really very happy with this server solution, because it does show very high stability, reliability and performance. I believe that you can notice it yourselves by the short time it takes to load X-bit's pages today... We have had good experience with this server and see it working reliably and fast...
    Let's see how well their MSI MS-9204 2U server stands up against a /.ing... :p
    • Looks like most of the bandwidth is being sucked up displaying their flash adverts.

      Maybe they should offload those onto another server / provider :)
  • by Jonboy X ( 319895 ) <jonathan.oexner@ ... u minus language> on Friday February 18, 2005 @02:15AM (#11708583) Journal
    But for how much longer will local restaurants let people suck up all the bandwidth that is supposed to be serving all of the customers?

    For that matter, how much bandwidth does a Skype VoIP call actually use?
  • by African Grey ( 859889 ) on Friday February 18, 2005 @02:16AM (#11708588)
    Is there a possibility that there will be some kind of accessory to make these phones more parrot-friendly? Some variation of the hands-free devices some of you humans use while driving would work well. As you probably know, my species is very talkative and it would be great to be able to chat long-distance without paying a wing and a leg to do so.
  • does it......... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SETY ( 46845 ) on Friday February 18, 2005 @02:18AM (#11708596)
    Does it:
    A) Hand off from Skype to GSM network when you go out of WiFi range?

    B) Spoof call waiting when you are on Skype?

    If it doesn't do these things it is fairly irrelevant for business.
    • Re:does it......... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by daveb ( 4522 )
      Does it: A) Hand off from Skype to GSM network when you go out of WiFi range?
      If it doesn't do these things it is fairly irrelevant for business.

      You're kidding right? There's quite a few businesses that have phones that are gaurinteed to never be out of wi-fi range. Land lines aren't obsolete in the business world.

      Our business is currently swapping a LARGE number of landline's for cell phone - several hundred. I'm pretty sure that a voip option would be of interest even if a seamless handoff was not

    • Re:does it......... (Score:3, Informative)

      by DJStealth ( 103231 )
      A) This is very unlikely. At best it could auto-redial the # on the complimentary network. The networks are so different, it would require a lot of hacking and infrastructure that wouldn't be financially viable for either Skype or a cell provider.

      B) This is much more likely; or maybe it will just default to "Unknown #".
      • I totally agree with the parent on the difficulty of implementing a working handoff/handover when going from one network to another. Technically it is probably feasible, but really costly (just remember that the main technical hurdle for 3G was seamless handover between GSM/GPRS and WCDMA networks).

        I said it is feasible, but it requires close cooperation between both networks, signalling has to be exchanged, and so on. Does anybody think that cell providers will be interested in cooperation with a technol
    • What? What did I do ...

      Oh ... (goes back to sleep)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 18, 2005 @02:19AM (#11708601)
    Skype is doing really well in term of technology. Do they have competitors with as good tech? How about open source?
    • by Zemran ( 3101 ) on Friday February 18, 2005 @03:25AM (#11709105) Homepage Journal
      Without wanting to start a flame war, I feel that Skype is the AOL of VoIP and there are many better services to use if you want. Skype is proprietory and does not adhere to the SIP standard in the same way that AOL was in the BBS days. I would hope that these phones will happily work with normal SIP services and are configurable as such. I use Gossiptel and use it to call friends that are on other SIP services, for free, without any problems, I just dial ** followed by their service providers code and then their number. Skype is for Skype users and those wanting to make cheap breakout calls, I want to call anyone including breakout calls.
      • Network effects (Score:3, Insightful)

        VOIP is by definition an area where network effects are going to play a prominent role, and the uptake of Skype means that it just gets stronger. Skype is something my parents could probably use without problems, whereas I'm dubious about some of the "fancier" systems. All I want is to be able to make a call, and if my parents are around, they answer, and we don't pay the phone company more than they already rip us off for DSL.

        I'm particularly interested in something open source, though, because Skype do
    • Unfortunately nothing that I know of. The main thing that's missing is a good networking layer that goes through NATs. That's something I've wanted to do for a while, but my main expertise is in codecs (see sig). If anyone is interested (and serious) about making a VoIP that goes through NATs and the like, let me know.
  • skype eh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by froggero1 ( 848930 ) on Friday February 18, 2005 @02:24AM (#11708636)

    I've been using skype for quite a while now, and even though it looks pretty cool, and the phones you can get are slick, until they support incoming calls with it, I can't really see it taking off.

    I know it's just supposed to be a replacement for long distance charges, but come on people, start becoming full-on VOIP!

    Or maybe I'm wrong, maybe you can get incoming (not skype-to-skype, an actual phone number) calls.

    • Re:skype eh? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by smartsaga ( 804661 )
      If motorola is making a phone that works with both maybe it will work with both, both ways.

      Why bother with making something that nobody will support. This means that it is closer than we think.

      Youre VoIP are belong to us... get it?

      Have a good one
  • Non-free hotspots? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by arc.light ( 125142 ) <[moc.liamtoh] [ta] [yrrucbd]> on Friday February 18, 2005 @02:25AM (#11708641)
    I don't suppose the phone can be configured to automatically login to a fee-based hotspot service like T-Mobile? Bringing up a browser on the phone and keying in the username and password each time would be a pain.
  • by aquarian ( 134728 ) on Friday February 18, 2005 @02:28AM (#11708659)
    Will Skype be the next dotcom sensation?
  • by ABeowulfCluster ( 854634 ) on Friday February 18, 2005 @02:29AM (#11708660)
    Not only does it play MP3's, act as a PDA, GPS, Navigator, Camera, Game Pod, RFID gizmo, but you can use it as a COMMUNICATIONS DEVICE!
  • by mboverload ( 657893 ) on Friday February 18, 2005 @02:29AM (#11708664) Journal
    Do not forget the bounty of unsecured networks around the nation. Drive up to someone's house and you get a free call.

    If they don't care enough to lock down their connection, then it is free for the taking.

    • Driver: Hey, can you tell me how to get to 101 from here.

      Nerd: Ya, its about 2 blocks from here. Just go straight till you hit the stop sign, turn left then head down 4 lights - make a right continue till you see the big apartment building on the left.

      Then you need to drive through that lot, exit the back way and turn on Baxter. from Baxter you make a U turn at the next light and there is the freeway entrance.

      Driver: WTF kind of directions are those??

      Nerd: Thats the War-Skyping way - this way you wont l
  • It's almost there. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by smartsaga ( 804661 ) on Friday February 18, 2005 @02:39AM (#11708734)
    If Motorola is making it then it might just happen.

    Most of you out there are thinking that it will require a WiFi hot spot, maybe it does. Now, what about the possibility of the internet becoming a public service like the street cleaning or garbage collection, just saying, that it will become a part of our every day lives, it will be available everywhere. If it becomes available everywhere, then most mobile phone service providers will include internet service free of charge or low cost. Paying a low monthly fee and being able to make long distance calls under that same fee sounds good to me.

    Now, can somebody make a Point to Point tunnel with SSH for phones so that uncle sam can't packet sniff your conversation about whether you are going to wear a tin foil hat or not in your birth-day with a giant penguin coming out of the cake?

    Have a good one.
  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Friday February 18, 2005 @02:40AM (#11708744)
    Just something I've been wondering. Who pays for all this Wizbang Voip networking? Voip is all well and good until enough people use it (or if it's all on interconnected public wi-fi), but what about the backbones, or the Satelites used for international calls? Once it's easy and cheap to do Voip, who's gonna sustain the network?
    • People pay for the connections and therefore already own that bandwidth. It is up to the ISP/big bell to make sure their infrastructure can handle it. They are being paid for that connection so it is not like the money has to appear out of nowhere.
      • But if the whole point is to make 'free' calls, that kinda defeats the purpose. If what you say is true, then as soon as Voip takes off, expect monthly fees to skyrocket as long distance revenue dries up. I hear a lot of extra fiber was laid during the Internet boom (don't remember where I heard that), so maybe that's supporting it right now, and maybe the Telcos don't really care how it's being used right now. But expect that to change as it becomes difficult/impossible to charge by the minute.
        • Well, in many cases the companies providing one of the meantioned services is a different one from providing the other, thus some companies gain some loose, not the scenario you suggest.
    • Ultimately I do. At the end of the day VOIP is just data like any other.

      I don't know much about international telecoms but presumably any pipes and satellites that currently switch telephone calls internationally could be repurposed to carry 'generic' data (if they don't already). Presumably VOIP is more efficient in bandwidth terms than traditional telecoms as the encoding will minimise the amount of data sent and therefore it should be less expensive.
      • In most cases the only place where the phone call actually goes analog is "the last mile" between the house and the switch. The actual data transmitted is usually 64kbs/line. If there were no screamers (modems/faxes) they could use a lower codec. Currently people expect to be able to use a 56k modem over a normal phone line, but not a VOIP line. Last year some equipment manufacturer (bad memeory who) was talking about dynamically changing codecs for the voice trafic, allowing those using modems and such to
  • by hairyface ( 717081 ) on Friday February 18, 2005 @02:44AM (#11708791)
    Dear Consumer, Skype have based their products on a proprietary protocol. They hope to corner the market, and if they succeed in that aim, their services will not remain free. If you care about the future of VOIP, go with any other solution (even if it's currently less slick, technically), using the open SIP protocol. The choices you make as a consumer (even of so-called "free" products) determine our future.
    • By that same argument, since Google uses proprietary code and is hoping to corner the market, we should all stop using Google.
    • Skype have based their products on a proprietary protocol. They hope to corner the market, and if they succeed in that aim, their services will not remain free.
      You're probably right. But name an alternative that my non-techie friends can install and works in MSWindows, Mac and Linux.
      When such a beast will exist, I'll be more than happy to switch.
      • You could try SJphone from It uses open protocols and there are versions for all the platforms you mention. I have tried it on Linux and it works fine and was easy to install. It probably isn't as polished as Skype. The point I was trying to make is that for a consumer, insisting on your/or your friends short term interests (ease of installation and use, coolness, etc) may well be against your own long term interests. Presumably, you and your friends want to communicate for free.
      • []

        Standards based, not founded by ex spyware inventor, runs in Java (at least OS X I use)
    • by Gadzinka ( 256729 ) <> on Friday February 18, 2005 @08:40AM (#11710417) Journal
      Unfortunatelly, Skype is the only VoIP product that "just works" in today's Internet with all the NATs and firewalls.

      SIP is as crappy and NAT unfriendly as you can get with separate signalling and payload channels. Think sending information about voice payload endpoint to the party from behind the NAT device you don't control. You can get around some of those problems going through proxies etc, but such proxy would became major chokepoint, since lots of clients would communicate through it instead of talking directly to each other. IAX would be much better choice here.

      You see, I install and maintain commercial VoIP (SIP, IAX) solutions for a living, but when it comes to advising other people on how to talk via Internet with their technologically challenged relatives, I always tell them to use Skype. It "just works", no matter how fucked up their net connection is.

      Now, one could devise a similar P2P system, based on some open protocol like IAX (with the way SIP works it would be rather impossible), that would immitate inner workings of Skype. If it materialises, let me know.

      They hope to corner the market, and if they succeed in that aim, their services will not remain free.

      They already have a legitimate, sustainable income source. The moment they started charging for "basic" services, bundling spyware etc, people would stop using it. I know I would.

    • How exactly will Skype 'corner the market'?

      They know full well that as soon as they started charging for Skype->Skype calls, people would just migrate to other programs.
    • Skype just works, and this not some dumb marketing propaganda. The latency time in the call is null, zero, zip, nothing, nada.

      I have placed calls to the other side of the pond to a crappy old POTS infrastructure (Belgrade downtown), and I get better quality than using a regular phoneline. Contrasting on this, calls made on Vonage (to Washington, D.C.) or some other standarized protocol suffers from horrendous latency times. Its almost like your talking on a CB radio.

      While I am concerned with the fact that
  • by jededeck ( 798190 ) on Friday February 18, 2005 @02:50AM (#11708831)
    Anyone with a PocketPC Phone Edition with WiFi capability, such as the Qtek 9090 or the HP IPAQ h6315, can already do this, because Skype has a version available for download for the PocketPC. A more interesting question is: What will phone operators do who provide mobile flat-fee internet packages (I heard some are already doing this in the U.S.A.), since phoning with Skype becomes free then any place any time where you have a GSM signal. I am not sure if the bandwidth available with GPRS is enough for Skype to run smoothly (does anyone know this?), however UMTS (a broadband version of GPRS is coming soon).
  • by supabeast! ( 84658 ) on Friday February 18, 2005 @02:52AM (#11708847)
    Verizon, MCI, Cingular, T-Mobile, and Virgin all announced plans to disable this feature before selling the phones to customers.
  • by awehttam ( 779031 ) on Friday February 18, 2005 @02:54AM (#11708874)
    Why on earth would Motorola or any of the other telecomms equipment manufacturers support standardized VoIP protocols. It's not like they're in the business to help us communicate better for the sake of helping us communicate better.

    Skype, sure. It's a truly alternative internet-based voice medium that doesn't directly compete with incumbment provider/pstn networks. No +1 NPA NNX NNNN dialing or anything Aunt Tilly would be used to.

    I just don't see why they would shoot themselves in the foot by supporting SIP, IAX or MGCP.

  • People Keep Talking (Score:5, Informative)

    by foo fighter ( 151863 ) on Friday February 18, 2005 @02:58AM (#11708917) Homepage
    People keep talking about VOIP like its a standard. But it's not.

    Try using off-brand phones on a Cisco VOIP network. Try using any regular phone on your home VOIP network.

    It just doesn't work.

    Maybe this Motorola phone works on the Skype network. (I wouldn't bet on it based on my past experiences with Motorola as well as Skype.)

    But what about your open source, small office/home office/home VOIP setup? It's not gonna work! Until we have some real standards and maturity in the VOIP industry we aren't going to have voice over internet protocal (VOIP) we can really trust to work when we need it.
    • It may not be a standard in and of itself, but there are standards within VOIP.

      As to your issues, I'm just not seeing them. Granted, you're right about Skype, but it doesn't follow any standards at all. I'm all against proprietary system.

      I run Asterisk PBX in my own home office. The client phones? Two POTS regular phones, a Cisco 7960, a Polycom SoundPoint IP, and some cheapo wifi SIP phone that I don't recall the make/model of. Guess what? It does just work. Beyond that, you know what? We're work
    • by samael ( 12612 )
      Actually, my regular phone plugs into a Cisco box that plugs into my router. I then use it just like an ordinary phone. Works fine.
    • Try using any regular phone on your home VOIP network.

      Maybe I'm missing what you are saying, but I use Vonage and I can use any phone I buy off the shelf with no problems. None yet, at least! Am I just lucky?
  • They waited 10 years I was hoping I could make and sell this :P

    A nice interface would be a kicker on such a service, and roaming between hotspots.
  • with many GSM-based cellular networks now providing GPRS services too, why bother with a hand off at all when you go out of wi-fi range. GPRS services will be able to keep the skype call going. the only problem may be GPRS bandwidth. i am not sure about how much bandwidth would be available (usually about 33.6kbps, which is enough for a skype call)

    the questions is will cellular networks allow skype conections on gprs?


  • Bluetooth & Skype (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BorgDrone ( 64343 )
    I'm a bit disappointed with mobile phone companies regarding the number of bluetooth profiles phones support.
    For example, GSM's don't support the headset profile, so you cannot use a GSM as a headset for another GSM or as headset for Skype. This is a big miss because the hardware to support this is all there, it's just a software issue. So now I cannot use my GSM with skype while at home.

    If you design hardware with bluetooth, please support all profiles your hardware could possibly support, even if it does
  • ... I wonder which mobile phone provider would like that. In the end they are missing out on call charges if phones support this technology - aren't they?

  • 0&tid=95&tid=215&tid=185 []

    so my dear criticize-anything /.ers. look who's talking now. skype is making headlines. it's aslo integrated into HTC phones too. []
  • I wouldn't get one of those phones just for Skype use, because I'd be afraid of getting cut off by Skype's incompetence.

    Right now you can call out from Skype to a regular phone, as long as you have a credit with them to cover the low cost of the call. But there is apparently *no way* for me to give them any credit! They won't accept my credit card, they won't accept Paypal, they won't accept a cheque in the mail. They refer me to Moneybookers, who won't accept my credit card, won't accept Paypal, and won
    • Oh, you young people.. back in my days giving money to any company was a long and painfull process. First one had to contact them by mail (the physical type) and ask for an invoice as they would not accept money without one. Then after the postal delay one would need to write and send a cheque and after they had received it they then would take some days to process it and the banks would take lot longer. So the normal process would take.. say 2-3 weeks.
      • But I can't even get Skype to give me that level of service! It's not that they make the process long and painful, they don't have any process at all.

        And remember, this is when I want to give them money. So extrapolate to a situation where I want to get something fixed. It doesn't bear thinking about.
  • by yennieb ( 692654 )
    How exactly is nearly 3 cents a minute to call a real phone "essentially free"? I've got calling cards that are no worse. For my $50/month cellular phone I don't need WiFi access to call and I use 2-3 thousand minutes a month, which would cost MORE at 2.6 cents a minute.

    Don't get me wrong, I'd like to see this mature, but big whoop at this point!

    - Brian
    • ...and when you're calling Detroit from Qatar, does your calling card still give you those 3 cents a minute?
      • No, which is why I applied the example to myself, someone who makes almost only US-to-US calls.

        I'm fairly sure that my comment applied to a few other people here, and negates a lot of the "essentially free" implied by the summary.

        Yes, it's a good deal for calling Detroit from Qatar, for all of you out there with WiFi access in Qatar and relatives in Michigan.

        - Brian
        • Three words, my ignorant-of-SE-Michigan-demographics friend:

          Dearborn Arab-Americans.

          (I.E. there are a *lot* of people in Michigan who have relatives in the Middle East. A *lot*. And most of their relatives tend to be the reasonably well-off types, or they'd still be back in the Middle East, unable to afford to come overseas.)
  • by tod_miller ( 792541 ) on Friday February 18, 2005 @05:50AM (#11709677) Journal
    In the office I hear people using IP phones, they sound like mobiles with bad reception (breaking up a lot).

    So, in the future where we have spent billions setting up good coverage, and microwaving our innards, we all start going around saying 'can you hear me now? now?' the funny thing will be those not aquainted with network congestion, they will try and move around for better reception, when it is network traffic causing the delays :-)

  • Transitions... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The big problem here is that you can't hand off an in-progress call easily (or at all) between VoIP and GSM. So, a call that starts VoIP has to stay VoIP. So, if you start a call on a VoIP network (say at a wireless hotspot), you can't wander outside without dropping your call.

    Also, a lot of WiFi hotspots charge for access (e.g. Starbucks). Obviously those are out, limiting usefulness.

    Also, forgive my ignorance on Skype or other VoIP protocols, but how do they handle the occasional dropped packet or
    • Re:Transitions... (Score:3, Informative)

      by The Darkness ( 33231 )
      Also, forgive my ignorance on Skype or other VoIP protocols, but how do they handle the occasional dropped packet or connection interruption?
      I don't know about Skype.

      With regards to other VoIP technologies:
      A connection interruption results in a dropped call if it's too long (seconds).

      Normal dropped packets are already occurring in Cell Phone networks and (IIRC) are handled by replaying some packets or interpolation to give the illusion that the dropped packet is still there. It's amazing how tolerant th
  • And like every version 1.0, I bet it will work perfectly.
  • no way! (Score:2, Funny)

    by fr1kk ( 810571 )
    imagine a beowulf cluster of these babies!

Reactor error - core dumped!