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WIRELESS: Is Wi-Fi coming to Smartphones soon?
Posted by Arne Hess - on Saturday, 06.12.03 - 15:00:14 CET under 02 - Windows Mobile News - Viewed 7004x
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According to an earlier article at and another newer article on InfoWorld, SyChip - the ODM of the SanDisk and Socket SD Wi-Fi cards, is currently developing Smartphone drivers for these cards:

Chip design company SyChip is testing software for its SDIO (secure digital I/O) WLAN (wireless LAN) card so it can be used to add Wi-Fi capability to smart phones.


With the card and the software, smart phones can use a WLAN to transmit data and double as a cordless VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone when linked to a corporate IP telephony service, said Navi Miglani, SyChip's director of marketing.


During a session at the Wi-Fi Planet Conference & Expo in San Jose, California, Wednesday, Miglani showed a Windows Mobile-based Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. i600 device with the SDIO card and a beta version of the driver software. A final version is due out in the first quarter of 2004, along with software for Palm OS-based smart phones, he said.

While this is definitely good news and really appreciated, I would like to add several thoughts here:

  1. I wonder if carriers like the idea. As we know today's cellphones are mostly sold through operators and are mostly heavily subsidized. If a Smartphone becomes Wi-Fi enabled to use a WLAN to transmit data and double as a cordless VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone the carrier might lose revenue - especially because we get more and more Wi-Fi HotSpots all over the world.
    In fact - from my point of view - this could slow down the interest of carriers to pick-up the Smartphone platform. Of might might drive carriers into the wrong direction to release Smartphones without SDIO enabled slots!
  2. With the current available card size and the location of the SD slot with all current available Smartphone (on the side not on top), I wonder how convenient the use can be:

Don't get me wrong, Wi-Fi enabled Smartphones are really appreciated but I think the risks are quiet high and also today's hardware isn't the greatest to be used with cards which looks out of the device!

Cheers ~ Arne

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Posted by SmartGuy on 07.12.03 - 10:40:22

Indeed this is good news...but you also have a strong point there Arne. 

Carriers...might think twice in offering this feature.  Since most definitely their revenues will be less as this will probably be cheaper.

For the second thought, although they did not point it out directly in their articles or press cons, dont you think they already taken this into account?  For sure, who would probably want to have a smartphone with a card that is sticking out? hehe. I for one is not into that.  I won't even be able to hold the phone properly. lol

I think they should slash away 1/4 of it.  Just some thoughts...


Posted by Steven -fyiguy- Hughes on 08.12.03 - 18:31:36

The Intel Reference Design Smartphone (shown at the IDF this fall) with Built-in WiFi for VOIP looks very good. Dubbed the Universal Communicator concept device. The prototype is designed to demonstrate several technologies Intel is focusing on, including simultaneous data and voice sessions, data transfers using best available network, and voice roaming across cellular and VoIP networks. Additional features of the concept device include an XScale processor(assumably the new Bulverde-based processor using Intel Wireless MMX technology), integrated GSM/GPRS and Wi-Fi, using Telesym Symphone for seamless GSM/Wi-Fi roaming, SD card slot(no mention of it being SDIO or not), Kodak's NuVue OLED display, and a Fastap keypad for rapid text entry.

To read more about this project head here:

There is a great white papaper on the Universal Communicator from the conference here:

A picture is available here:

The phone could be internally configured to use WiFi only at specific Hotspots say by Wireless providers or their partners, or could be configured to work on a companies internal WiFi network with a cost/seat pricing structure, or the wireless provider could sell the VOIP software as a monthly service to allow the user to connect however they please with different pricing structures for data like they do with GPRS and RTT. There are many ways to make a profit, the wireless companies will have to think it through and see what is best for their pricing model as well as attracting customers and keeping them.

In my opinion if one carrier offered this over another I would definitely go with them, but the price of admission may be the only thing holding some people back. It would be great especially in some companies, where WiFi access is more profound than cellular access and seems to garner the most product appeal for large campus environments.

For some other great reading and to view Intels IDF presentations  and future roadmaps head here:

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