The Wall Street Journal notes that easier regulation and a lower tax burden might contribute to VoIP as a cellular complement: A new phone from Motorola might be one of the first to hit the U.S. market in which voice calls could travel over home Wi-Fi, hotspot Wi-Fi, and GSM cell networks. Reporter Jesse Drucker writes that the Yankee Group estimates one-third of people's cell calls would be within range of some Wi-Fi service. Offloading minutes via Wi-Fi could be appealing to consumers if the cell companies don't count those as in-plan minutes. It allows carriers to be more "generous," reducing customer churn, and it avoids filling expensive cell spectrum with more calls.
Sprint PCS and Cingular are both pursuing this hybrid option, which a potential FCC decision that would make VoIP calls exempt to local regulation and taxation could aid. The cell companies can more easily add a service that has a single national taxation and legal structure. SBC is again the catbird seat with a large footprint of Wi-Fi hotspots of their own and available for resale that could be used.
I predict that the $1.99 per month unlimited FreedomLink Wi-Fi that SBC is offering to its DSL customers (with six months free with a year commitment) finds its way by spring into Cingular customers' mailboxes for a slight premium: I wager $10.00 per month, partly to counter T-Mobile's excellent footprint and $20 per month unlimited Wi-Fi for its cellular customers.