Wi-Fi Alliance focuses on driving WiFi-enabled handsets

One of the key initiatives for the Wi-Fi Alliance this year is pushing WiFi-enabled handsets. Thanks to the iPhone, which incorporates both WiFi and EDGE, consumers are becoming more educated about the marriage of WiFi and cellular and the type of experience they can have over WiFi, noted Kelly Davis-Felner, senior marketing manager with the alliance.

Davis-Felner cited a recent white paper written by Tonse Telecom and sponsored by the Wi-Fi Alliance that indicates much of the growth of the WiFi market in India is likely to come from handsets since subscribers there are accustomed to using sophisticated data services on their handsets more so than laptops.

Some of the initiatives the Wi-Fi Alliance to push along the adoption of WiFi in cellular devices include instituting a program that will test voice performance over WiFi. That program will be implemented within the next quarter. The alliance has also begun benchmarking power consumption of these devices and is seeing enhanced talked time at an average of three to eight hours using the WMM Power Save component.

In a separate interview, T-Mobile Product Manager David Sholkovitz said the operator plans to offer some 10 WiFi-enabled devices by the middle of this year that will work on the operator’s [email protected] UMA service.

When asked how resistant operators are to enabling WiFi on cellular devices, Davis-Felner said: “This is the first year we’ve had to do less of a sales job. The iPhone, the Nokia N-95 and others have brought awareness and WiFi is maturing.”

In the past, many operators have been resistant to the idea of allowing their subscribers to access unlicensed WiFi services. AT&T obviously has warmed up to the idea with the iPhone, but previously had disabled WiFi in many of its phones.