At 3GSM World Congress 2007 today, Boingo Wireless made official its commitment to a Boingo Mobile service that lets users of mobile device handsets pay only $7.95 a month for VoIP service using Boingo’s virtual network of hotspots. This is in contrast to the $21.95 a month they charge laptop users for unlimited data access to the Internet.
That Boingo wants to get its subscribers talking is nothing new. Last year, the company announced a partnership with Kineto Wireless to support fixed/mobile convergence (F/MC), and then created the Boingo Embedded Wi-Fi Toolkit to help developers build Boingo support into Wi-Fi based handsets.
Boingo Mobile is currently limited to devices running Windows Mobile 5, as well as the Belkin Wi-Fi Phone for Skype. The latter was the first Boingo Mobile device; it went online via Boingo in December 2006. The Windows Mobile 5 client software is a free download. Boingo lists compatible devices — including the T-Mobile Dash and others — on its Web site.
Eventually, the software should also be available for Symbian OS-based smartphones. Boingo demonstrated the Mobile service at the Nokia booth at 3GSM, specifically on the popular Nokia S60. Boingo is now a Symbian Platinum Partner.
(Sweden’s Challenger Mobile, a recently launched Wi-Fi-based telecom service, is now allowing unlimited calls to users of the Nokia E series and N802ie phones. That access requires using a free hotspot.)
The Boingo Embedded Wi-Fi Toolkit continues to be available to developers using Linux, BREW, and various flavors of Windows. Hong Kong-based ODM
Boingo isn’t limiting itself to working with the handset makers; it also has its eye on carriers, with the new Boingo Configuration Server. Gunning calls it a “UMA enabler,” referring to the Unlicensed Mobile Access technology powering many of the F/MC deployments around the world.
“We bring the pipe around the world,” says Gunning. “If someone wants global Wi-Fi roaming, but doesn’t have the network, or wants to expand Wi-Fi beyond their network, we provide the ability to do that and integrate it with their existing provisioning system.” A carrier could go from offering GSM to offering handsets with GSM and Wi-Fi at Boingo’s 60,000 hotspots with little work. The server sends a simple XML file to the phone to set the parameters of access. It’s available now to carriers interested in working with Boingo.
Gunning says that more mobile announcements are right around the corner for Boingo. “There’s a ton of momentum in the space… everyone’s on timelines shorter than I expected,” he says. “It’s very exciting.”