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Monday, October 29, 2007

Hutchison 3 - SkypePhone: doesn't look like VoIPo3G

I'm in Boston today so couldn't make it to the totally non-secret 3/Skype launch announcement today.

As far as I can see, this is technically very similar to the earlier deal with Skype on the X-series products about 10 months ago. In other words, a software client on the phone acts as a 'dialler' for Skype, but doesn't actually use VoIP over the radio network. It uses a circuit call into a Skype gateway in 3's network. The earlier X-series one used iSkoot on the Symbian platform - whereas this one has an application built-in to Qualcomm's BREW framework.

I'm expecting quite a lot of this type of hybrid 'dial through' option before we move towards 'proper' mobile VoIP over the next 2-3 years. It's a lot easier to guarantee decent QoS using this approach in the short term - especially as this deal is on a cheap phone which I expect uses a basic WCDMA 3G chipset. 'Ordinary' 3G doesn't support VoIP very well - there's too much latency and things like header compression are absent.

I'm expecting operator-led VoIPo3G (probably with partners like Skype) to start to become more important from the point at which full HSPA-capable (HSDPA+HSUPA) devices become common. This is already realistic for laptop modems, and will start filtering into more high-end phones in 2008


Yes, I was right about my guesses on this - just got conformation from the 3 PR folk. It's a low-cost WCDMA-only phone based on a relatively low-end Qualcomm 6245 'value platform' chipset.

1 comment:

Mo said...

Am I missing something? I thought SIP (well, the 3GPP's variant of SIP) was part of the 3GPP spec?

Given that VoIPo3G seems to be a relatively big deal, I'm placing a wild guess that either SIP's restricted to the backhaul, or that it's just the case that nobody supports it yet. If the former, it makes no sense to get into bed with VoIP providers if the network's already doing VoIP at the back-end (although if you want to go down that route, there are airgap and protocol issues which might require a standalone gateway as in this case), if the latter… well, that's a different ball-game altogether, isn't it?