Taipei to replace cellular with wifi?

Posted on July 12, 2006  /  2 Comments

Taipei to replace cellular with wifi?
10 July 2006

Taipei’s City Government has launched a voice over wifi trial it believes could lead to 200,000 using the technology by year end.

Dubbed ‘Taipei Easy Call’ the service is based on Taipei’s city-wide “WiFly” WLAN network and is backed by ten companies, including the Taipei Computer Association (TCA).

The idea is to saturate Taipei with wifi hot spots enabling those taking part in the trial to switch from regular cellular networks to wifi when a signal is available.

“This is the world’s first internet phone system using the whole city, rather than a spot, as a wireless operation environment,” Mr Wongg of the TCA told AFP news agency.

According to reports the initiative will also involve switching schools and government offices to VoIP.

Taipei’s mayor, Ma Ying-jeou, said that money saved from using the internet telephony system in schools will help provide better lunches for students.



  1. T-mobile is offering WiFi enabled phones that can make calls using cellular network and when it detects its proprietary WiFi hotspot, routes voice traffic over the WiFi network. Users pay less or nothing when initiating a WiFi based call, although a stiff $20 a month over and above cellular subscription fees ensures that T-mobile still makes money. More operators are getting into this game. The day isn’t far when mobile users will be able to dial any cellular and landline number initiated on a non-proprietary WiFi network and seriously hit operator revenues. Running Skype on a 3G handset over a free WiFi network already opens up that possibility…

    T-Mobile Tests Dual Wi-Fi and Cell Service

    Published: October 24, 2006

    Yesterday T-Mobile became the first major mobile phone carrier in the United States to begin selling service that allows a single handset to communicate over both cellular networks and Wi-Fi hot spots.

    The first phones, which are available to consumers in Seattle on a trial basis, link to T-Mobile’s cellular network outdoors and to Wi-Fi routers at homes, in offices and in other locations like airports and hotels. This lets customers avoid using some of their cellular minutes and increases coverage in places where signals are typically weak, like basements and rooms without windows […]

    Since customers can make unlimited calls using their broadband connections, the service represents a threat to Vonage, SunRocket and other companies that offer phone plans over high-speed Internet connections. The service also gives T-Mobile a leg up in competing with Sprint and other cellular carriers that are trying to develop similar services. […]

  2. More developments on WiFi enabled mobile phones in the USA that allow voice calls. The author identifies using someone else’s infrastructure to make phone calls as an ethical issue. When it is practically impossible to distinguish a WiFi enabled phone from a mobile phone without WiFi, I doubt users will sweat on the ethical principles if they can so easily get away with it. Those with open WiFi networks will probably password protect them if they see a significant degradation in performance. Voice calls are not a significant hogger of bandwidth compared to video downloads, videoconferencing, online gaming etc. I doubt voice calls will bother free WiFi hotspot providers. At least it wont bother me.

    The Air Is Free, and Sometimes So Are the Phone Calls That Borrow It

    Darcy Padilla for The New York Times

    Published: November 27, 2006

    SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 26 — Gary Schaffer looked out his window here last week to discover a reporter standing on his lawn, pirating his wireless Internet access to test a new mobile phone.

    New types of mobile phones, like this model from Belkin, can locate and tap in to the growing number of wireless access points to the Internet, just as laptops with Wi-Fi do. Once connected, the user can make phone calls as usual, but signal strength can vary.

    The phone, made by Belkin, is one of several new mobile devices that allow users to make free or low-cost phone calls over the Internet. They are designed to take advantage of the hundreds of thousands of wireless access points deployed in cafes, parks, businesses and, most important, homes.

    The technology’s advocates say that as long as people are paying for high-speed Wi-Fi access in their homes, they should be able to use it as a conduit for inexpensive calls and an alternative to traditional phone service.

    But, in a twist that raises some tricky ethical and legal questions, the phones can also be used on the go, piggybacking on whatever access points happen to be open and available, like that of Mr. Schaffer[…]

    For all its limitations, the technology is starting to emerge commercially, with companies like Vonage, Skype (owned by eBay) and T-Mobile (a unit of Deutsche Telekom) now selling or supporting mobile devices that use Wi-Fi networks.

    In some cases, the voice service is free. A Belkin phone that works with the Skype calling service costs about $180; calls to Skype users on computers are free, as are outgoing calls to domestic phone numbers, at least through the end of the year. Incoming calls from phones cost extra. Vonage charges $90 for a phone and $15 a month for 500 minutes of talk time.

    One big hurdle is that the Wi-Fi radio frequency spectrum is unlicensed and not maintained by any one company, so call quality can be unreliable. Moving a few yards can require finding a new network to connect to. In other words, when you place free or low-cost calls — especially on a stranger’s network — you sometimes get what you pay for.

    More here: