Saturday, March 17, 2007

Vodafone's Starfish to defend their voice business?

Vodafone surprised at CeBIT with a new service called Starfish:
Vodafone, the world's most international cellphone carrier with over 200 million subscribers, showed Internet-calling for cellphones with Skype, which it said it may launch in the future.

Starfish allows a cellphone user to see a list of buddies from various chat and Internet calling groups, such as MSN, Yahoo, AOL and Skype, and send messages and make Internet calls.
So, what is this? Didn't Vodafone struggle against VoIP on mobile phones and reserve it's right to block VoIP in Germany from July 2007 on? There was also an English article by Andy Abramson on this attempt.

I guess that Vodafone tries with Starfish to defend its per minute voice business. "The calls use the traditional wireless voice channel from the phone to the radio base station and the rest is carried over the Internet", does the Reuters report say. That sounds like iSkoot to me. As Starfish uses the voice channel, I suppose that it will be charged per minute.

This looks weird on first sight, if you keep in mind that Vodafone launched on CeBIT Europe's fastest mobile 3G internet connection: Using HSDPA and HSUPA you get 7,2 MBit/s download and 1,4 MBit/s upload speed on your laptop or mobile phone. I already saw on CeBIT Samsung's new HSDPA smartphone F700 which really can make use of these fast speeds. It's as small as a normal mobile phone.

Vodafone's HSDPA/HSUPA connection is much faster than many domestic DSL connections. A 100 MB mobile download takes only 2:45 minutes. I have seen it with my own eyes. And so I wondered why Vodafone uses the voice channel for Starfish, while the service could easily be all over IP.
But then I remembered that Vodafone's cash cow is still the voice channel.
Probably they don't want their clients to realize that with Skype, fast mobile access and Vodafone's 50 Euro mobile flatrate people can talk as long as they want without a per minute charge.

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