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Future of WiFi? – it's the mobile phone

VoIP is key driver

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The Register's Wireless LAN Channel

David Hughes normally sells WiFi hotspots for BT. Today, at the WLAN Event, he predicted that WiFi was the future of the mobile phone, not just the laptop computer. And he said that voice applications would cover the country using hotspots.

Hughes was one of a panel of four talking about the future of WiFi in Europe, at the WLAN Event. All agreed that voice over IP would gradually come to be a prime driver of mobile Internet.

Clive Mayhew-Begg, Chief Zones Officer at MyZones, said that "integrated WiFi broadband is the 4G of the future."

"I say that very simply because it enables the consumer to own their own network services," he said. "Today, broadband is email; but it enables voice. That's why it's so exciting. We want to get everybody a little excited, a little bit edgy. A new generation of services for consumers is coming."

Mayhew-Begg noted that by the end of the year, the first Nokia phone with WiFi as well as GSM would be launched. He predicted it would quite possible be the end of Bluetooth as a LAN alternative.

Hughes said that the fears of power consumption being high on WiFi phones were unjustified. "My understanding is that the only difference in power consumption between WiFi and Bluetooth is the range. So with power control added to WiFi, you can get similar power consumption."

He added that when BT OpenZone was launched, it was anticipated that its public access zones would include Bluetooth. "We haven't activated that," he said, "and my expectation is that WiFi phones will sweep Bluetooth away as a LAN access technology."

Hughes predicted that Bluetooth would return to being seen as purely a way of linking personal devices to each other.

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