Mobile Phones to Integrate Wi-Fi – Research Firm

Cell Phones to Get Wireless LAN Support

by Anton Shilov
06/30/2006 | 12:54 PM

Mobile phones featuring Wi-Fi connectivity will get higher popularity in general and in the

U.S. in particular, believes research firm In-Stat. Even though nowadays few handset models can boast with Wi-Fi functionality, in future the technology will be enabled in much more handsets, as wireless local area networks (WLAN) are everywhere and customers will seek for phones that can access the Web using WLAN.

“In the end, most U.S. cellular carriers will embrace Wi-Fi in their handsets, as carriers know that if they don’t, other carriers will, and these carriers will likely steal away some of their customers. .  Combo handsets also offer carriers opportunities to provide services such as VoIP over Wi-Fi, lessening impact on their cellular data system,” says Allen Nogee, an In-Stat analyst.

In-Stat believes that by 2010, shipments of cellular handsets containing Wi-Fi will exceed 132 million devices, even though this will not be a really widespread feature when compared to the overall number of mobile phones worldwide, which is likely to rise to 3 billion, according to some other estimations.

In-stat claims in a recent research note that more than 20 cellular handset models now have, or will soon be, released with embedded Wi-Fi access. A few cellular carriers are planning to offer services that support voice calls over both cellular and Wi-Fi, and some Wi-Fi/Cellular handsets are incorporating voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) clients for services like Skype.

The firm also indicated that while it had been assumed that business customers would be first to adopt Wi-Fi/Cellular handsets, but in fact consumers are likely to be more receptive to early adoption of the technology.

Carriers have been reluctant to offer Wi-Fi-capable handsets for several reasons, the main was a concern that customers will cease to dial lucrative international numbers from the phones and will employ VoIP services instead. However, recently carriers like Vodafone in the United Kingdom offered their clients unlimited 3G traffic for about ?60 ($111) per month, which allows them not only to use high-speed internet, but make voice calls using software like Skype, provided, that their mobile phones are capable of such features.