Jajah, a popular VoIP service provider, has teamed with eMobile to release a new mobile telephony service on a handheld device that operates purely over a cellular data network. While the service is only available in Japan (don’t cancel those voice plans yet), it may well serve as an preview of things to come.
The service is available to users of the Sharp EM·ONE Ultra Mobile Device, which is a handheld computer about the size of a Sony PSP. While the device lacks a radio for voice calls, it does support the HSDPA high speed data network. In partnership with eMobile, Jajah has developed a software client for the Windows Mobile 6 platform that turns the data-only device into a viable portable phone.
The initial release of the client last year allowed for outbound calls, but users of the mobile device were unable to receiv incoming calls (they didn’t have an assigned telephone number). Users pay $5 a month for a Direct Inward Dialing number (DID).
This is what phone networks will eventually become – simply VoIP over data. The shame is that we are unlikely to see such a device in the USA any time soon, as the network owners here are unlikely to give up their extreme margins on voice and text messages in exchange for data-only. They are also well-served by strict FCC rules that protects their markets, as well as controlling spectrum. Again Japan leads us by years with Mobile technology – when will the USA and Europe learn?