Voice over WiFi

The Guardian: Sharp and NTT DoCoMo to trial voice over IP from PDAs to WiFi hotspots. Sharp says that if the trial is successful, it plans to roll out a broader commercial service in Japan this Spring. Voice over WiFi, first sighted last year with TeleSym’s launch at Demo, is gathering steam even faster than I expected. Probably before the end of 2003, or next year at the latest, we’ll see the Vonage of this space in the US — a pioneer in delivering real commercial service.

Connecting to a hotspot network doesn’t give you ubiquitous connectivity, though the mesh of access points will be dense enough to make the service viable at the right price. As I’ve written before, wireless PBXs in offices and corporate campuses are one sweet spot. But there are other intriguing opportunities. What if Starbucks sold you a phone card good for nationwide wireless calling at 2 cents per minute, with one catch — you had to make the call from a Starbucks? How many people who had some inkling to grab a cup of coffee anyway would take advantage of the offer?