Cell-Phone Industry Courts VOIP
Manufacturers and mobile carriers are preparing to link standard cell service with Wi-Fi hotspots, designing phones that will switch over as people move around. The main goal of this new technology, called unlicensed mobile access (UMA), is to let people use their mobile wherever they go, even at locations where there is no cell coverage but only a Wi-Fi hotspot.
For years, Wi-Fi telephones and walkie-talkie-like communicators have been available for hospitals and offices. Now, manufacturers and mobile carriers are preparing to link standard cellular networks to the mishmash of Wi-Fi hotspots, a move that will expand coverage and perhaps make cheaper mobile minutes a reality.