Hot off the presses, we’ve got news that the BlackBerry 8820 is en route, packing delicious Wi-Fi connectivity. Wi-Fi 802.11 a, b and g will all be supported, as documented in the FCC patent last week, and not only for data. Generic Access Networking (a.k.a. UMA) will allow for seamless dual-mode calling while in a Wi-Fi hotspot. Although that’s the big feature, besides which the device is largely an 8800, the new BlackBerry will also also be bringing a few other goodies. For one, it will support microSDHC memory cards, meaning up to 32GB of storage capacity. We looked at the 8 GB cards that are in the works from Samsung not too long ago. No 3G just yet, still quad-band GSM/GPRS and EDGE. GPS is in there too, and RIM also points out AZERTY and QWERTZ keypad availability, pointing to an early launch in both France and Germany. In fact, RIM’s handset index lists France as the only European country confirmed to carry the 8820 so far.
A recent report from Analysys is forecasting a drop in voice and data rates due to growing popularity in low-cost data packages, Skype, WiMAX and other “transparent data pipes” like Wi-Fi. All of those things sound great to us, but unless carriers can provide competitive plans, they’ll be severely undercut by these third-party service providers.
“There is increasing uncertainty over the future of the wireless industry, and it could evolve in radically different ways,” says co-author Dr Mark Heath. “Organisations need to generate robust plans to steer the industry in their preferred direction, and to ensure success regardless of how the market develops.”
The report outlines three possible scenarios: either low-cost data pipes, emerging markets thriving on accesible, low-cost services, or cellular going indoors thanks to Wi-Fi and the like. All three are happening to varying degrees now, but which emerges as the clear next step for the wireless industry remains to be seen. What do you guys think?
We’ve already seen Wi-Fi handoff on EDGE on the upcoming BlackBerry 8820, and now it looks like GSM interoperability is on the way. NewStep Networks and Paragon Wireless have just completed testing on their GSM/Wi-Fi handoff solution, and recieved certification for their Voice Call Continuity client.
“Handset manufacturers’ continuing interest in interoperability with our solution clearly demonstrates not only the value of the NewStep offering but also the forward momentum of the service convergence market,” said Craig Gosselin, NewStep Networks’ chief marketing officer.