BT's finally announced its consumer variant of WiFi Fusion. I'm a bit disappointed to be honest - I'd thought the delayed launch vs Orange, Telecom Italia et al meant that they'd been waiting for an ideal opportunity to announce some new WiFi UMA phones. But it's the same-old A910, P200 and 6136 - not even the recently-announced Nokia 6086. I guess all the device manufacturers are waiting for 3GSM next month.
The reference to BT's Wireless Cities is interesting, and is a differentiator vs. quite a lot of other HomeZone-only FMC pitches. But it raises some interesting issues around scaling up hand-off. I haven't got the stats, but I'd be surprised if the average consumer Fusion user actually uses the WiFi/cellular or cellular/WiFi handoff more than a couple of times a week. Maybe 100 times a year, let's say. I mean, how often do you actually walk in or out of your front door at home, mid-call?
... but in an urban area, there's likely to be lots more WiFi "dark spots" - getting on the Tube, walking in and out of buildings, and in some cases the WiFi no-service area will overlap with a cellular no-service area, with all sorts of funny effects on the fringes. I guesstimate that the average user will probably have 10x or 20x more handoff events in a metro/hotzone setting than just using it at home. Should be interesting to see how the devices, the networks, the user interface & the batteries all cope with this.
Also interesting is BT's pitch on pricing & distribution. I definitely like the "four minutes talk for the price of one" as it's pretty easy-to-understand, although how it competes in the longer term with "free" courtesy of Skype/other VoWLAN is less clear. Elasticity being what it is, though, I suspect "75% off" in consumers' eyes is almost as good as "free". The Phones4U deal sounds promising as well - but what isn't stated in the press release is whether it will also bundle BT Broadband, and whether Fusion will also start to be made available for non-BT Broadband customers.
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