This just came in to our news desk: WiFi cell phone will soon make their debut in Shanghai. Kick ass! Errrh … only one question, what exactly is a wifi cell phone? So, we took some time out from gawking at hot chicks online and went to work.
A WiFi cell phone is actually not very different from mobile phones today. In addition to picking up signals from either a GSM or a CDMA network, the phone can also connect to the internet in a wireless hotspot, like your notebook computer. Once on the net, all traffic (voice/data) would automatically be switched to using IP, as in VoIP.
What’s the big deal, you ask? Well, for starters, calls made through the net are much cheaper, 0.15 RMB a minute for domestic long distance and 0.3 RMB a minute international, as opposed to the usual 0.6 RMB a minute domestic on China Mobile (we haven’t called international on our cell, which presumably could cost us our left kidney … which would then likely end up inside some Japanese business man).
Want to hear more? Let’s say you’re stuck in a remote village in Gansu province with no mobile coverage — yes that Gansu. You can use your internet enabled cell phone to call 110 before some nutjob decides to scalp you (the local police probably don’t speak a word of English, in which case, you’re screwed anyway). That’s a bit ghastly. We prefer to picture ourselves parked in Boonna on a lazy afternoon and making cheap calls to our friends — hmm, guess we need to make some friends … fast.
A picture of a WiFi phone can be found here, made by UT Starcom. Pricing isn’t available yet, but we hear it’ll be around 4000 RMB.
Now, will all this actually work here? In light of recent developments, that is a very good question.