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Cellphones Communications Handhelds Wireless Networking Hardware

Using WiMAX To Replace a Phone? 169

vigmeister writes "I've decided to explore the possibility of using a netbook/MID as a phone while eschewing the services of a cellphone provider. Now that Atlanta (where I live) has WiMAX from Clear, I ought to be connected to the Internet everywhere within the city (once I sign up). Theoretically, this should mean that I will be able to use my netbook as a cell phone. Of course, there are some very real issues to overcome and I am simply putting this experiment together to see if it is something that is realistically possible. This could possibly extend to uncapped 3G connections (if they exist any more) as well. Are there any obvious problems you would foresee? Is there anything I have missed or any other questions I should attempt to answer in this 'experiment' of mine? A major issue is, of course, the fact that my pseudo-netbook has to be carried everywhere and always left on."
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Using WiMAX To Replace a Phone?

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  • You're delusional (Score:4, Informative)

    by realmolo ( 574068 ) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @04:24PM (#28114377)

    You don't *honestly* think that you're going to get WiMAX coverage everywhere you go, do you? WiMAX isn't magic. It has most of the same limitations that regular 802.11 b/g has. It's an *improvement*, but you still aren't going to get good signal inside of most public buildings.

  • Problems (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rob1980 ( 941751 ) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @04:24PM (#28114387)
    Are there any obvious problems you would foresee?

    How are you going to dial 911?
  • by eudaemon ( 320983 ) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @04:26PM (#28114407)

    Unless you barely use your cellphone, you'll find that the netbook's battery is
    your biggest limiting factor. Particularly if you use a bluetooth headset so you aren't walking around
    with a cabled headset plugged into the netbook. There are 802.11 based SIP phones that can serve the same purpose.

    • by svnt ( 697929 ) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:25PM (#28115439)

      It depends. I live in Portland, Oregon and tried this with Clear, Skype, and call-forwarding.

      For me personally (and I assume at least multiple other people reading this website), I primarily use my cell phone at home and at work. It works reasonably well in this situation assuming you have good coverage at both ends. The battery life is a non-issue because it is primarily plugged in. I don't answer my phone when driving anyway, so most of my friends will leave a voicemail.

      The biggest issue is network latency. It is like having a conversation over (forgive me) NAT-blocked Xbox Live. There is a very noticeable lag in the conversation.

      When going out, I used my cell phone for texts. You can have Skype transcribe your voicemails and SMS you with their contents [skype.com]. Then you can respond via email/SMS.

      All in all it worked decently, although it was fairly involved to set up. I stopped using it in the end because of the lag, the fact that Clear wouldn't support the Nokia n810, and finally I got tired of lugging the netbook around. It was an interesting experiment and you could probably make do with it, but it is not very practical just yet.

    • It could work well as a semi-portable, meaning the rig goes in a small briefcase between home and work, so you get free long distance in both locations and can downgrade your cel to pay per use.

      That's exactly what I take on tour with my band. I just hook up my VOIP adapter through my laptop* and I have my landline at every venue and hotel room with wi-fi. I just use my cel as a pager and for texts. I'm 2000mi from home right now, and I just got off the phone with my mom over a lousy 1Mbps connection, no

  • I think you are going to find that, compared to cell phone makers who have pretty much figured out power management, the netbook makers are still figuring it out. But YMMV, I've only used Asuseseses and Dellses.

  • Forwarding (Score:5, Informative)

    by Aram Fingal ( 576822 ) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @04:27PM (#28114427)
    I think an important thing to consider is the ability to forward your number. I'm thinking of doing that in general. If I have one number which I can forward different places, I can give that out to people who want to call me and I can have it forwarded to a prepaid cell phone, my work phone or other devices as needed at any particular time. It makes your idea much more practical and I think it's how people will do things in the future. It also helps enable more competition in the market for mobile phone devices.
  • Battery Life (Score:3, Informative)

    by StarWreck ( 695075 ) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @04:28PM (#28114433) Homepage Journal
    Having to leave the netbook on with an ACTIVE WiMAX connection. Enjoy your cell phone with a 2 hour battery life, when not using it to talk.
    • You forgot, he's probably got a motor/generator connected to the beanie propeller on top of his head. So, battery power isn't a problem. If there's not enough wind, he runs around in large circles.


  • by SashaMan ( 263632 ) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @04:30PM (#28114459)

    You say:

    Are there any obvious problems you would foresee?

    and then a sentence later:

    A major issue is, of course, the fact that my pseudo-netbook has to be carried everywhere and left always on.

    I would consider this a pretty big obvious problem.

    • I'm willing to do that temporarily to see if a lighter device like the Viliv S5 or an n810 can eventually replace my phone.

  • Ubiquity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Erich ( 151 ) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @04:31PM (#28114471) Homepage Journal
    Why don't you see phones that only support the 3G protocols?

    Because they're not ubiquitous. You will end up somewhere where coverage isn't so great for your new protocol. If you can handoff to an older protocol, you will keep your connection. So this is why even a few years ago you could get Verizon phones that still supported AMPS, why every phone that supports EV-DO also supports 1X (and older standards), and why every phone with WCDMA/HSDPA/HSUPA/etc still supports plain old GSM/GPRS/EDGE.

    It's also why it doesn't make a lot of sense to have a WiMAX only phone. You need at least WiMAX+GSM, or WiMAX+CDMA1X. You need to be able to hand off to the older interfaces. And probably you want to support everything... WiMAX when it's available, HSDPA or WCDMA when that's available but WiMAX isn't, or GSM/GPRS/EDGE when that's all that's available.

    Or maybe you never leave downtown Atlanta. Then maybe WiMAX-only would be fine, assuming you trust the reliability of the relatively new network.

  • I guess I would first and foremost look at their coverage map for Atlanta, and see all the sections, even in the middle of the city, that are marked as "coming soon", and make darn sure that I would get a signal in the areas I needed it. One thing i've noticed with sprint(who owns a big chunk of clear), is their coverage maps (and I'm assuming all the companies do) Lie on the maps. just cause the map says its good signal there, doesn't mean it really is.
  • May want to wait (Score:3, Informative)

    by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @04:32PM (#28114493)
    To use a netbook as a true phone replacement, you need battery life of 24 hours (what happens if a call comes in while you are switching battery packs?) Also, what is the battery life of your bluetooth headset? In addition, I believe most netbooks shut themselves down when the lid is closed; you need to either figure out a way to defeat this or figure out a way to carry it around with the lid open.
    • If a call comes in as you are switching batteries, same thing happens as when you are in a blackout spot with regular phone. The caller doesn't get through and they call back later. I don't think something like this would be used as an always on, get a call every half hour type of phone. But more as a replacement for people who are on pay as you go service, who may only use it for outgoing calls, or may only receive 1 or 2 calls a day.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      In addition, I believe most netbooks shut themselves down when the lid is closed; you need to either figure out a way to defeat this or figure out a way to carry it around with the lid open.

      You mean like going to the power management settings and unchecking the box that says to sleep when closed?

  • by Sean0michael ( 923458 ) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @04:32PM (#28114495)
    I use Clearwire's regular wireless internet here in Seattle. They block Skype traffic to promote their own VIOP plan for an extra $10-15/month. They might not let you use your netbook as a cell phone without ponying up extra $$.
    • by EdIII ( 1114411 ) * on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:12PM (#28115161)

      They block Skype traffic to promote their own VIOP plan for an extra $10-15/month. They might not let you use your netbook as a cell phone without ponying up extra $$.

      Well first off Skype sucks. Not trolling, I promise. It just really sucks for quality and that is my own experience and that of several others. Skype also does require you to "pony up" more money to connect to "regular" phones. So it's not as free of a solution as one might think and I believe the person in the article wants to connect to the regular or traditional phone systems.

      As for the blocking the easiest way to bypass that is VPN. All of the VOIP setups I have created and maintain use VPN for all the SIP/AIX traffic between the branch offices and the provider. Assuming this person has a computer that he can leave on at home, setting up his Netbook/MID to route the traffic across the VPN and then ultimately to the VOIP provider is not terribly difficult.

      I realize that would require some expertise, and not everyone would have another computer or network to VPN too, just pointing out the blocking can be bypassed.

      • Skype has to pay for connections to regular phones cause phone companies suck not skype. There is no free alternative, and its much cheaper than a normal phone.

        vpn is horribly unpractical. Even with a perfect computer you will be creating completely unusable lag time and conversations will be near impossible unless you want to tell everyone you are in china somewhere.
        • by EdIII ( 1114411 ) *

          Skype has to pay for connections to regular phones cause phone companies suck not skype.

          Uhhhh, no. That is not why Skype sucks. The phone companies don't suck either because they are charging Skype for termination and origination either. Termination is when Skype connects you to a regular phone number and origination is when somebody calls a phone number and it connects to you through Skype. They have to charge. Both Skype and the telephone companies. It can't be free.

          My point was that Skype was not a

          • I haven't had such luck with VPNs i guess, I get a ping of about 200 going through one. Which is fairly noticeably. Adding to whatever you get being on a phone. I use vpn often just not for anything real time so its never been a big issue.
      • by hab136 ( 30884 )

        Well first off Skype sucks. Not trolling, I promise. It just really sucks for quality and that is my own experience and that of several others.

        I use Skype as my home phone, and dial in to conference calls for work. The quality is as good as my cell phone - it's not CD quality, but it's perfectly fine.

        One big problem is most people have crappy audio on their computers, for example trying to use built-in laptop speakers and microphone. A decent microphone and headphones (not speakers) does wonders. I use a

    • Having worked for Clearwire Tech Support in the past (less than a year ago) I can tell you this is complete garbage. They used to filter the ports that VOIP used, but even then you could call up Clearwire and ask them to unblock them for a 3rd party VOIP service, but unless something drastic has changed since I left (I doubt it), they stopped filtering VOIP ports for 3rd party VOIP over a year ago.

      Having said that, I can also tell you that 3rd party VOIP did not work well in many cases with Clearwire's leg

      • Thanks for the extra and updated info. When I tried using Skype, it was at least a year ago, maybe two. If that has changed since then, that's great and probably good for the submitter!

        In my defense, the post wasn't "complete garbage" in that it was true. The fact that you could apparently get the VOIP port unblocked by calling customer service was not well known or promoted by Clearwire, while most customer service forums had numerous complaints about blocked traffic. My post could use some more up-to-
        • No problem, yeah, you are right, I stand corrected, it isn't complete garbage, but just out-of-date. You are right that they did not promote or advertise that you could get the ports unblocked, as at the time, Clearwire NOC engineers felt that if everyone used VOIP that it might cause massive latency issues with the towers. That's of course with the old tech, as WiMax should be able to handle quite a few more connections per tower due to the increased number of towers per square mile in the coverage area.
  • Done it (Score:4, Informative)

    by technicalandsocial ( 940581 ) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @04:37PM (#28114579)

    The CP Lawn Bowling Club in Victoria, BC has done this. WiMAX -> Buffalo AP -> Linksys PAP2T -> SIP provider. Bringing the monthly bill from $54/month with Telus on copper pair, to $35/month for unlimited long distance and broadband/wifi as well. http://cplawnbowling.org/ [cplawnbowling.org]

    • by kindbud ( 90044 )

      I am interested in your proposal and would like to subscribe to your CP Law 'N' Bowling newsletter.

  • Are there any obvious problems you would foresee?

    Battery life is going to be a big one. Netbooks have better battery life than, say, full-size laptops... But it still isn't much compared to your average cell phone. Especially since you're going to have to keep the thing powered up at all times. No sleep, no hibernate, nada. And wireless connectivity typically drains the battery faster.

    You'll want some kind of headset/earpiece/whatever... Unless you're just going to do the speakerphone thing all the time. If you go with bluetooth that will be anothe

  • by jeffmeden ( 135043 ) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @04:40PM (#28114625) Homepage Journal

    Are there any obvious problems you would foresee?

    "Oh my god, someone call 9-1-1!"

    "Hang on, let me get my computer out of suspend...

    And put my headset on...

    Ok, I am dialing...

    Hello, yes, emergency-- What? You are the 9-1-1 dispatch center where? Tulsa?"

    • 911 is overrated.
      The chances that you are going to really, life-or-death, need it are pretty small.
      Maybe if you live with a bunch of people who've already got medical conditions - maybe.
      But I'm pretty confident that even in almost all of those cases, a delay of a couple of minutes wouldn't make a bit of difference.

      • Tell that to anyone who lives in or near the downtown area of any major city. My wife works as an MT (Medical Technician) near downtown in a city that only has a population of about 200k people, and they get gunshot and trauma victims all the time based on 911 calls (because they are informed by the 911 people that the ambulance is enroute, and they are the priority trauma center for this county) and most of the time these people live. It's the random off the street victims who stumble into the ER where 9
        • and most of the time these people live.

          And, as I emphasized in my original post, how many would have died if they were just 5 minutes later getting to the hospital?
          That's the key - is the cost and worry about all the infrastructure really worth the results?

          The choice is not between emergency services and no emergency services, it is between getting emergency service and getting emergency service a few minutes sooner.

          None of the pro-E911 information I could find ever bothers to frame the question in that manner, its always one-sided statistics ab

          • Well, if someone has an uncontrolled bleeder, 5 minutes usually makes a difference between life or death. I'm not talking about the "Oh my god I broke my leg" situations but the "Oh my god my boyfriend stabbed me in the fucking stomach and now I have an uncontrolled GI bleed." Trust me, it's all too fucking common (which is why my wife wants to get a job with the city's only private hospital that is not a trauma center).
            • Sorry, what percentage does "all too fucking common" work to?

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by pcolaman ( 1208838 )
                0 < all too fucking common <= 100
                • So basically your data pretty much doesn't support your argument.
                  Kinda expected there would be a couple of those kinds of responses.

                  • And I can tell from your responses that you are not in the medical field. You wouldn't understand unless you worked in a hospital. My wife runs labs for them and when working blood bank, must type blood for people bleeding out. Sometimes she comes home emotionally wrecked from working all night trying to help save a patient. Sometimes they win and sometimes they don't. Trust me, it makes a difference.
                    • And I can tell from your responses that you are not in the medical field. You wouldn't understand unless you worked in a hospital.

                      You keep digging that hole deeper. I wouldn't understand the numbers because I'm not emotionally invested? What, do you think the E911 system runs on happy feelings? That if we just wish hard enough everybody will be saved? Can we wish just a little bit harder for extra ambulance-only lanes to make sure nothing impedes victims getting to the hospital as quickly as possible? Maybe we should just wish all the ambulances into medivac units while we are it.

                    • 911 saves lives. Period. You can keep trying to talk around that fact, but it's not going to change it.
                    • 911 saves lives. Period. You can keep trying to talk around that fact, but it's not going to change it.

                      911 kills people. Period. You can keep trying to talk around that fact, but it's not going to change it.

                      Could you please be a little MORE irrational in your next response?

                    • 911 doesn't kill people. People (and disease, war, drugs, etc) kill people. I've never heard of anyone dying because they called 911. Unless the phone was laced with some deadly poison that can be absorbed through the skin. I'm starting to wish I had mod points, I'd mod you Funny.
                    • 911 doesn't kill people. People (and disease, war, drugs, etc) kill people. I've never heard of anyone dying because they called 911.

                      Gee, you haven't paid attention to a word I wrote. What's the problem, too mesmerized thinking of the children?

                      911 kills people because the money spent on it almost certainly can better spent on other things that save more lives per dollar - like better nutrition in public schools or cheaper medicines or broader health coverage or even just cheaper cell phones - what good is a cell phone with federally mandated E911 gps location if, because of the cost of all that extra mandatory functionality the price is

                    • You could say that money spent on anything might kill someone because it isn't spent on something else. Money spent on education kills soldiers because it's less money to spend on things like armoring HUMVEES, money spent on the military kills kids because of less money spent on safety on school buses, etc. You're making a huge leap by saying that 911 kills people because it is money that could be spent on something else, but try telling that to the people whose lives are saved because an ambulance got to

                    • I almost forgot, there are plenty of charities that take used cell phones and normal wired, ensure they are working properly, and then donate them to people who cannot afford phone service (cellular or land line)to use for 911. Both cellular and wired phone networks send 911 calls through even if service is not active. This is why you and I and others who have active phone service pay for 911 calls, so that those who cannot afford to do so have that service. Do a modicum of research before you decide to
                    • You could say that money spent on anything might kill someone because it isn't spent on something else.

                      No, YOU could say that if YOU weren't paying attention. There difference between your bullshit understanding of what I said and what I actually said is one key phrase - MORE LIVES PER DOLLAR.

                      but try telling that to the people whose lives are saved because an ambulance got to them in time.

                      Try telling that to the families of people whose lives were lost because there wasn't enough medical staff in the ER. There you go again with the emotional think of the children bullshit. Just like I predicted you would, funny how I understand your own arguments better than you do.

                    • I am quite aware of such charities, I have given them every single phone I've ever discarded.

                      That does not change basic economics. SOMEBODY has to pay for the phones. If the price is increased due to government mandates, then LESS phones are purchased and probably even LESS phones are handed down to those charities because people can't afford to upgrade as frequently and thus even LESS people have cell phones.

                      Do a modicum of research before you decide to spout off.

                      You have so clearly demonstrated your fail at math and simple economics that such a command from

      • Agreed, the 911 fixation is a pretty lame objection. What's the chance of being in an emergency situation where there is nobody else and no other phone around? In my many years I sure haven't seen it. I think this obsession with 911 availability that always crops up in voip discussions is just another consequence of the TV news-driven mass hysteria that's taken over the US psyche. The world really ain't that scary, folks.

        Now, the battery life and the ungainly size, those are serious problems and I'd think

        • by afidel ( 530433 )
          You're describing the same sort of stupid thought process that leads people not to vaccinate, "everyone else gets vaccinated so I don't have to since the disease won't hit me". The problem is if too many people get service that doesn't provide 911/don't get vaccinated then the coverage starts to break down and you get to a tragedy of the commons result which is that everyone is relying on a shared good but unwilling to pitch in to support that good.
          • Good point. Perhaps we should also all become heart surgeons, midwives, and bomb disposal technicians. After all, if every single person doesn't do every single thing to prepare for every single rare possibility, we are all totally and irrevocably doomed. DOOMED!

            How do you feel about people who dare leave the house without carrying a cell phone at all? They are also unable to call 911. Do you spit in their faces as they pass, or just silently seethe at them, knowing they'll burn in hell for their negligen

        • The 911 fixation is a real concern for mass replacement of a existing technology that had 911, no concern for just a few people wondering around a big city, they'll likely run into a cell phone user often. Obviously once VOIP looked to be replacing a significant amount of phones, 911 needed addressed to move forward there.
          Since most in-active cell phones can dial 911, it is a free solution to keep the old cell charged in the car, small compromise for a person willing to lug around a laptop 24/7.

      • by shakah ( 78118 )

        FWIW, I work for a telephony provider and we see approximately 1 call per day to emergency services per 1k lines.

      • The chances that you are going to really, life-or-death, need it are pretty small.

        Yeah, but when you do, it's life-or-death.

        Or to put it in Slashdot terms: I don't keep backups because I expect my hard drives to crash all the time, I keep them because just one crash would be very, very bad.

        • Yeah, but when you do, it's life-or-death.

          False dichotomy - there are all kinds of life-or-death situations that we don't spend hundreds of millions of infrastructure money on in each state and interfere with the market for related devices.

          Or to put it in Slashdot terms: I don't keep backups because I expect my hard drives to crash all the time, I keep them because just one crash would be very, very bad.

          Nor does the government require every hard disk you buy to come with a second one just for backups of the first.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Hello, yes, emergency-- What? You are the 9-1-1 dispatch center where? Tulsa?"

      Or just dial 404-658-6666, which is the direct line to City of Atlanta 911. (Useful to know when your cell phone happens to connect to a tower outside the city limits, and 911 routes your call to the county emergency services, but the county won't send anyone to your address, because you live inside the city limits, and your call is disconnected when the county operators attempt to transfer you to the correct call center ..... four times in a row ..... )

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by loshwomp ( 468955 )

      "Hang on, let me get my computer out of suspend...

      And put my headset on...

      I'm going to put on my robe and wizard hat...

  • Probably a better choice than a netbook, since it's closer to cell phone size. Battery life is probably still an issue, however. I'm also not sure how possible it is to obtain one anymore, so you probably shouldn't procrastinate.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nokia_N810#Nokia_N810_WiMAX_Edition [wikipedia.org]

  • Wimax phone (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rshimizu12 ( 668412 )
    I like this idea, but I am more enamored by the idea of a Wimax enabled phone. HTC will be offering a Wimax Android phone soon I believe. This is cool, because the it's carriers can't lock down the phone since it's OSS. A even cooler solution would be deploy your own Wimax router at home and have free Internet/Voip service miles from home. When you are out of range you could use a prepaid phone.. I do think laptop Wimax Voip solution would be good especially for outgoing calls.
  • But I would use the Google Voice service to try your laptop first and then fall back to a cheap pay-as-you-go cellphone number, for all the times when you don't have your laptop conveniently available.
  • Portland, Oregon, also has WiMax through Clear. There are decently large sections of Portland (including my house,) that do not have WiMax coverage; and larger sections with very spotty coverage. Admittedly, Portland is a much "hillier" city than Atlanta, but it only stands to reason that some parts of Atlanta would have coverage that leaves much to be desired, as well.

    The 911 problem others mention can be resolved by picking a VoIP provider that has 911 service; or by manually bookmarking your local phone number for emergency dispatch.

  • by bzzfzz ( 1542813 ) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:09PM (#28115105)

    WiMAX was designed to handle VoIP traffic, and has specific traffic categories on the airlink for isochronous flows, like RTP and other VoIP payload streams. Unlike something like Ethernet, which is CSMA/CD (carrier sense multiple access, with collision detection), traffic is scheduled by the carrier network. For uplink data, your WiMAX card goes through a process of requesting bandwidth on what amounts to a hailing channel, and then gets a bandwidth allocation it can use. In theory, a small but constant amount of bandwidth can be allocated for VoIP at the airlink level, resulting in low jitter, low latency, and low frame loss.

    There are a couple of problems with this.

    The first problem is that not all WiMAX cards on the market today (in fact, quite possibly none of them) have sufficient sophistication in their device drivers and microcontrollers to send the RTP (or Skype, or whatever VoIP protocol you're using) packets on an isochronous service flow while the balance of the packets travel on a general-purpose service flow. As a result, the RTP (etc) packets have to compete with whatever else your machine is doing, either stuff you're initiating with the browser, or background things like checking email or updating the Vista weather widget, or checking for updates of one kind or another. It doesn't help matters that no operating system has a network stack that implements the service flow concept.

    The second problem is that low-speed isochronous flows over the WiMAX OFDMA airlink depend upon sharing a fairly large timeslot with other users transmitting simultaneously on the uplink using a different set of carriers, at least if the system is going to be economically feasible for the carrier. Allocating an entire timeslot often enough to keep the delay below half a second or so would result in considerable wasted bandwidth, so the idea is to have users share a timeslot by have each one use only a fraction of the available carriers. Decoding the resulting burst at the base station then depends upon maintaining orthogonality between OFDM carriers, which means that exact frequency synchronization is required between multiple users. While each user's WiMAX card synchronizes its clock with the base station, doppler shift due to changes in speed or direction or a changing multipath environment can change the received frequency at the base station enough to compromise orthogonality and make the burst impossible to decode.

    The result of all this is, from your perspective, is that your VoIP traffic could be jittery and have long delays and high packet loss, especially when the carrier's network is heavily loaded.

  • Wireless technologies depend too heavily on environmental conditions for good quality of service. I don't know how reliable WiMAX is in actual deployments, but every wireless data technology I have seen so far suffers from a variety of problems associated with being wireless. I can't say that WiMAX has managed to overcome the problem of being wireless, but I seriously doubt it. My point here is that trying to do VOIP over a wireless link will not likely be reliable or acceptable.

    • by svnt ( 697929 )
      Wireless technologies? Such as those used by the cellular companies?
      • Yes, those wireless technologies. You have never had interruptions of calls and service? Never had some jackass with a CB radio broadcasting with such intensity that every magnetic speaker in a 100 yard radius is affected along with everything that operates on any radio frequency? And what of problems associated with variations in strength among various active transceiver towers? The problems go on and on.

        It is radio after all.

  • by morgauxo ( 974071 ) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:18PM (#28115277)
    It seems like the arguments against this can be put in 3 categories. 911, battery life and coverage.

    I would think that if you are viewing this as a "cell"phone replacement then it would obviously fail on all 3.

    I remember being able to live without a cellphone. In fact, I miss it. I find it very annoying that in our cellphone enamoured society my friends and relatives feel "entitled" to talk to me whenever, wherever I might be. I don't want to talk to someone as I go through the checkout line in the grocery store. I find it annoying to try to understand someone who will not speak up when I am driving my Jeep. It's loud in there. Let alone the safety issues! I'd rather call people back when it's convenient for me. Just like I would have with an answering machine and a landline about 12 years ago. Does this make me old? I am only 29.

    That in mind I too have considered what the author is asking though I would use a more portable form, some sort of PDA rather than a netbook.

    I would keep separate power adapters in my office at work, one at home and a third in my car. Most of the time I would be in one of those places and could plug it in. Don't want to be tethered to the plug? Use bluetooth! If I don't get a signal in my car then oh-well. I know how to change a tire! That about takes care of the power problem. It just doesn't have to be on every moment I am not in one of those places. If I need to make a call, that's when I would turn it on and use the battery.

    As for coverage... wifi at home and work are easy. Your mileage will vary at work but I doubt many on this site don't have it at home. Anywhere else it works... that's just a bonus.

    Think you have too much of a social life to not be always connected? Do you think you will miss too much because you're out? I think not... you are on Slashdot! Seriously though, I was a college student with one of the busiest lives I knew just before I got my first cellphone. Missing calls didn't stop me, if I missed it then I was already busy! If I missed too many calls then maybe I would have ended up at home, but then I wouldn't miss the next call. See how that works?!

    Now, 911. This issue has been brought up against every form of VoIP since the begining. I have to ask... does it really matter that much? Honestly, I don't know the answer to this but don't the 911 operators have the ability to transfer to one another quickly? If not then this is a problem the public should be crying to see addressed! What if a call was coming in via radio or some other third party method where the person making the call is not in the same local as the emergency. Hasn't there always been a need for 911 calls to be transfered?
    • Now, 911. This issue has been brought up against every form of VoIP since the begining. I have to ask... does it really matter that much?

      Trust me on this one.

      It matters a lot - and this is a lesson you do not want to learn the hard way.

      "Ingested Foreign Object."

      I was on the line - but I couldn't speak.

      "Carbon Monoxide Poisoning."

      I was on the line - but I couldn't think.

  • Latency? (Score:2, Informative)

    I'm surprised I'm seeing not a lot of comments here about latency issues. I live in Baltimore and I also happen to live in an area where we're stuck with a single provider for broadband internet (a condo with an exclusive contract to a horrible, horrible ISP. No, not Comcast or Verizon... MDU Communications). Before WiMAX came along, I had no option but to stick with the horrible ISP or deal with dial up. When I found out WiMAX was available where I live, I was excited. I went to one of their booths at
  • You might get more milage out of a nokia n810 than a netbook. Mine has a battery life similar to that of my cell phone. And there's a skype client for it.
  • Your Atlanta WiMAX is from Clearwire:

    They charge an extra $25/month to unblock VoIP, and they are currently only trialing in Portland, Oregon right now:

    http://www.fiercevoip.com/story/clearwire-tests-wimax-mobile-voip-phones/2009-03-20 [fiercevoip.com]

    If you want VoIP from their service, you will need to use their routers and their software, which apparently makes a TCP connection to a back-end server, and then VoIPs from there (this also lets them comply with CALEA wire-tap orders from the auth

  • I was at CTIA this year looking for Wimax enabled devices and release schedules, here are some relevant links from people I saw on the show floor:

    http://www.runcom.com/sitefiles/1/3310/19046.asp [runcom.com]

    Go to the part about Wimax Phones. There are also Wimax video IP phones and wimax based surveillance systems shown there, see a product announcement here from Feb.

    https://www.istockanalyst.com/article/viewiStockNews/articleid/3042555 [istockanalyst.com]

    I don't see details on their site, but the handset I have a flyer for was called th

  • Cell carriers used scheduled access to the wireless channel, which provides guarantees on bandwidth and latency so that your speech is understandable. 802.11 provides random access, which is great for bursty Web traffic but terrible for voice when multiple people use it simultaneously (and undoubtedly you would not be the only one using VOIP over your WiMax AP).

    For example, an 802.11b network can handle ~140 simultaneous Skype calls in theory, but only about 6 in practice. For a more detailed analysis
  • And found Skype to be very reliable on my 3.6 yo 7.2Mbps Vodafone 3G connection on the EE PC. The only downsides were obvious: a) It's still a very bulky phone. b) You look a right dork talking to your computer in a coffee shop, unless you have a headset, and even then, it's fairly unsociable. I suppose the solution is to carry a Skype handset with you at all times too! c) Here in the UK you can buy from 3 (network) a mobile/cell phone with built in WiFi and use that. Now, this is where it gets interesting
  • I just want to know if I can use an iPod Touch as a wifi phone :P

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dcowart ( 13321 )

      Yes, you can actually. I got the apple earphones(needed to replace old ones) & mic set from my local mac store and I hooked them up to an ipod touch with the skype app and was able to make calls easily. This was using only 802.11b/g connections that were open where ever I was located. The biggest problem was spotty wifi connectivity and coverage. Also since I ride a motorcycle I was more worried about having access to emergency services, so I didn't go with it as a solution to totally replace my cell

  • No Roaming. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jddj ( 1085169 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @10:05AM (#28123151) Journal

    Have had this discussion with Clear already. You can roam anywhere on their networks - as long as you're in Atlanta or Portland Oregon, the two cities where they have a presence.

    Was thinking about WiMax as a solution to mobile connectivity for my laptop, until I realized I'd have to set up different service in the different cities where I want to work (and would have to wait until some of those cities have WiMax in place). FAIL.

    Not like I want to pay for 3G, either.

    I figure in 10 years, a lot of this gets sorted out. I'll put the MacBook Pro on standby 'till then, k?

  • When I first moved out of my hometown to another city after graduating, my first concern was staying in touch with friends and family without using my phone to save on long distance calls. I also wanted them to be able to call me without extra costs. So here's what I did. Using my laptop I was able to get a full "voip" line using Skype with the Skype-Out service and getting a phone number through DID Worldwide. Skype-Out costs around 3$ a month and the DID number costs 5$ a month. This way for approx. 7$

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