New Linux Platform Supports Dual-Mode Cell Phones

Open Linux system platform and open source technology provider a la Mobile announced this week the availability of a complete Voice over IP (VoIP) Linux system stack for WiFi/GSM dual-mode phones.

The new stack is part of the company’s Market-Ready Series of Linux-based solutions for smartphones.

The company says handset vendors are looking for completely integrated Linux system stacks for solutions they can drop into their handset product lines and deliver to market. The Linux stack from a la Mobile would eventually let a consumer using a phone based on its stack to make calls via GSM cell towers as well as VoIP calls via any open WiFi network.

The primary reason for making a VoIP over WiFi (VoWiFi) call is to avoid using cellular carrier minutes or roaming charges.

Service Suite

The a la Mobile VoIP Made-Ready Linux Solution comes with an integrated SIP-based VoIP client, a browser, Java, Adobe Flash and a core suite of applications such as media, messaging and e-mail.

“The idea is to enable handset customers to bring dual-mode phones to market readily with no delays, while also giving them the peace-of-mind that the stack is completely integrated, tested, supported and maintained,” Pauline Lo Alker, president and CEO at a la Mobile explained. “In the upcoming months, we expect to introduce additional Made-Ready Linux solutions tuned for other function-centric mobile handsets.”

Obstacles for VoWiFi

While interest in WiFi-capable cell phones, in addition to VoWiFi smartphones, is ramping up quickly, roadblocks remain. The biggest roadblock may be reluctance on the part of cellular service providers to make it easy for customers to use their cell phones for WiFi calls.

“We are still absolutely in the earliest end of the early adopter stage for dual-mode phones,” Tony Rizzo, an analyst for The 451 Group, told LinuxInsider. “Carriers are absolutely not interested. In fact, the Nokia E61 that Cingular sells has a WiFi brother but Cingular put the old kibosh on it and won’t sell a dual-mode phone any time soon. Same with Verizon.”

In addition, an even more mundane problem may slow widespread use.

“Battery life is an impediment to purchase,” Stephen O’Grady, an industry analyst with Redmonk, told LinuxInsider. “WiFi is a battery-intensive activity and tends to drain consumer devices fairly quickly.”

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