BlackBerry 8820 - What? Wireless Voice!

by Sachin Balagopalan on July 19, 2007 · 1 comment


RIM yesterday announced the new BlackBerry 8820 will be available to the masses later this summer. AT&T will be carrying it on their pokey EDGE network (like the IPhone) and according to RIM it’s the first dual-mode BlackBerry to provide not only data access over both cellular and Wi-Fi wireless networks but wireless voice as well. Apparently the phone can switch “seamlessly” between EDGE, GPRS and GSM networks and 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi.

The key point here is the device supports the UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access) specification which enables the user to make a voice call over a data network thus bypassing the cellular network. Unlike VoIP, devices that implement the UMA specification will be able to transparently handoff between the two networks as the user enters or leaves a WiFi hotspot. So if you’re on a corporate campus that’s WiFi enabled or any other WiFi hotspot for that matter you don’t have to use your carrier’s network to make a call thus saving money. It’ll be interesting to find out exactly how many users end up doing that once the device is rolled out to the public.

This could potentially be huge with WiFi hot spots springing up everywhere there is a good chance users who own this device will be making most of their calls over WiFi and not cellular. I don’t believe IPhone supports UMA hence only data can be accessed via WiFi and not voice. I think we’re going to see more of these dual mode devices hitting the markets in the near future and this could potentially mark the end of carrier dominance in the cell phone industry here in the U.S. We’re always going to need a cell phone carrier and the transparent handing off (controlled by the user) is probably the ideal scenario to ensure uninterrupted coverage. But with these dual mode devices I see the power potentially shifting more towards the user because the carrier will no longer have a choice but to support all devices. This means the user will have the upper hand in choosing the device they want and enable the device with the carrier of their choice.

It’s going to be interesting to see how this pans out.


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USB 3G 12.01.11 at 1:47 am

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