Earlier this week Andy Abramson posted Rumored New Apple iPod Touch Will Be Huge for VoIP, Multimedia. I gotta say that while the device might be interesting, I don’t see the attraction for VoIP. His assertion is that by providing the basic elements of the mic, earpiece and wifi it’s a significant enabling mechanism. I’m just not so sure it’s compelling.
My own experience with VoWifi has not been good with hand-held devices. I’ve tried a few dedicated SIP handsets and only the Polycom SpectraLink 8002 was reliable for daily use. Even then, that’s more for a fixed installation than roaming around in the wild. To roam the wild world of wifi you really need a web browser to negotiate the logon pages common to many services.
I’ve found that a lot of wifi networks prove less than idea for voice applications. In my travels I encounter a lot of hotel wifi, both free and paid. Many simply don’t cut it for real-time traffic. Some are simply overtaxed with people watching Hulu & YouTube. From the experience with the SpectraLink phone I suspect that lack of WMM/wireless QoS is also an issue.
I do make some routine use of VoWifi, but it tends to revolve around using a soft phone on either a laptop or netbook. This past week I joined the VUC call with Voxeo using Boingo to logon to the wifi at the airport in Montreal. In that case the wifi seemed ok, but the ZipDX conference bridge was in distress for some unknown reason.
I’ve also tried a couple of VoIP clients on my Blackberry Pearl but found them either too unreliable to simply inconvenient. I’ve not tried dual-mode cellular handsets, although I’m told that the Wifi/GSM models offered as part of T-Mobile@Home work just fine.
Phil Baker makes an interesting point that when used in concert with a Mifi device this new iPod is potentially more interesting. That may be true since it allows access to 3G data services from an otherwise wifi-only device.
Damien Welsh (aka Phoneboy) also chimes in with some seemingly sound logic to challenge Andy’s assertion.