Earlier this week, NTT DoCoMo showcased a prototype 3G/WLAN combination phone carefully configured to make it useless for public hot spots. Against this, Fujitsu Labs and spinoff Net-2Com Corp. have developed something much more useful — a VoIP/PHS phone aimed at the consumer market to be commercialized this fall, with CDMA, GSM, and other versions to follow “depending on market demand.” WWJ treked over to the Fujitsu Solution Forum event in Tokyo recently to have a look at this breakthrough phone; we also took a test ride on Fujitsu Lab’s new PDA unit running a virtual hotspot application that should be coming to reality near you sometime soon. Full Program Run-time 14:47, also available in Real Player and Quick-Time formats.
Of course, there was a lot of reluctance on the part of Kiyoshi Oh to talk about why there is no Symbian OS on the phone, and what DoCoMo thinks of the whole thing. (We can imagine what DoCoMo is thinking, but it’s probably too rude to print. – Ed.)
We also think that using Windows CE .NET 4.2 makes a mockery of the idea of the OS being open, but we do note that Fujitsu is looking at introducing Linux support. The phone’s basic spec includes a 2.2-inch QGVA color LCD, G.711 & G.729a-compatible CODECs, and built-in IEEE802.11b, single CF and USB slots. The whole thing is animated by an Intel PXA273 processor.
Plug and Talk, but not to Pay?
The prototype had already been exhibited at China ELECOM 2004 (23 June, Shanghai) and Oh-san made no secret that the combi phone’s first (and possibly primary market?) is going to be China. But the beauty of the phone is that users should be able to use the Compact Flash slot to plug and play — or rather talk.
The wireless IP mobile phone’s CF slot provides the phone a lot of flexibility; when a PHS data communication card is inserted, the phone allows both WLAN and PHS communications. Of course, there’s a Web browser and email software so it can be used as a data communications device as well.
Fujitsu has developed what it calls “Seamlesslink” software that automatically selects the most appropriate wireless network. How about a switch to automatically default to free WLAN and then switch to cellular when out of range?!
On top of WLAN functionality, the wireless IP mobile phone gives users the option of whether to choose WLAN or public wireless networks by changing the CF card. There are no technical barriers to adding W-CDMA or other licensed cellular network capabilities. You insert a GSM or CDMA module and it’s “Hello to EU or USA,” for example.
The phone is due to hit the streets in Japan later this year.
Because the cellular network interface is a card that’s already been approved by the carriers, the handset it seems, can be customized to what the the user requires (Again, the cheapest!)
– WWJ Editors