Not only is IDT's "WiFi phone service" a demonstration of the technical feasibility of "Wi-Fi Cellular"... but also a demonstration of economic / market feasibility. It's a bit surreal to be reading of this development, and offering it for comment to readers of this Blog, as I finish the last of my morning coffee fix, using free, public Wi-Fi service within a stone's throw of the headquarters of AT&T Wireless in Redmond, WA.
Text of the IDT Press Release follows.
IDT to Deploy America's First Commercial WiFi Phone Service
Ironbound Section of Newark, New Jersey To Be First Area Covered
Newark, N.J., April 22, 2004 - IDT Corporation today announced plans to deploy the first commercial WiFi phone service in the US. IDT's WiFi phone service will allow users to bypass local phone companies and make domestic and international phone calls via a wireless connection to the internet. IDT plans to initially roll out the WiFi service in select areas of the Ironbound section of Newark, New Jersey. This initial deployment will provide research to help IDT develop the new service as it is rolled out in other areas. The new phone service will utilize Net2Phone's innovative Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) platform. IDT Corporation (NYSE: IDT, IDT. C), is a multinational carrier, telephone and technology company. In its April 5th issue, Fortune magazine placed IDT 746th in its ranking of America?s top 1000 companies. Based upon results from last quarter IDT has an annualized revenue rate of more than $2 billion.
"IDT is opening up the next frontier in telecommunications," said Howard Jonas, Chairman of IDT Corp. "By combining WiFi wireless technology with IDT's global telecommunications network and retail distribution, Net2Phone's VoIP platform and the fixed wireless infrastructure of IDT Business Services (Winstar), IDT is providing residential consumers with a more affordable and flexible phone service."
WiFi phone customers will not need their own expensive broadband connection to access the service. IDT will provide wide area WiFi coverage in the targeted neighborhoods. Calls will be routed via Net2Phone's VoIP platform, and terminated by IDT's worldwide telecommunications network and infrastructure. IDT Business Services' (Winstar) fixed wireless network will provide backhaul services for the traffic. IDT is currently deploying its initial network and expects to begin service in Newark within 30-60 days.
"While many are still talking about WiFi phone service, IDT is making it a reality," said Jim Courter, IDT's CEO. "IDT is bringing the first commercial WiFi phone service into the marketplace. Not only have we found a profitable application for WiFi, but we're creating a new industry within telecommunications that can provide basic phone service for a fraction of the cost of traditional phone service."
IDT's network is being designed to be compatible with advances in wireless technology. IDT's WiFi customers will benefit from a seamless transition to WiMax service as that technology matures and becomes more widespread.
"Net2Phone pioneered VoIP," said Stephen Greenberg, CEO of Net2Phone. "Now, together with IDT, we are launching the next generation in telecom. With IDT's reach and infrastructure expertise and Net2Phone's innovative VoIP platform, we are well positioned to ride the burgeoning WiFi network explosion to offer consumers and businesses affordable telephony services."
"Companies like IDT have led the renaissance of Newark," said the Honorable Sharpe James, Mayor of the City of Newark. "Believe it or not, there are still people in America who cannot afford basic home phone service. Now IDT is using its technology to bridge the 'telecommunications divide.' Because of IDT, Newark becomes the first city in America where affordable WiFi phone service will be commercially available."
Copyright (c) 2004 by Steve Stroh (excluding the text of the IDT Press Release). This article originally appeared on Corante / Broadband Wireless Internet Access.
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