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Cell Phones Say Hi to Wi-Fi

On a cellular/Wi-Fi network, no more dropped calls inside buildings.

How’d you like just one phone number – and phone – for home, office, and mobile? Chicago-based BridgePort Networks officiated at the long-heralded marriage of cellular networks and Wi-Fi – which could mean cell phones that never drop calls inside buildings, where Wi-Fi is the cheaper and more reliable system.

At conferences in Barcelona and Las Vegas, BridgePort showcased new phones from Chinese manufacturer E28 that carry both a standard cellular radio and a Wi-Fi radio. When attendees wandered out of the Wi-Fi transmitter’s range, the call switched to the cellular network. “They would never know when the handover was; there was no break in the pitch or the voice,” boasts Todd Carothers, a BridgePort vice president.

Carothers called the conference events the first live demonstrations of call handovers using an emerging standard called voice call conti-nuity, which bridges packet switching and cell switching. Companies such as Kineto Wireless in Milpitas, CA, are working on similar technologies, and business users can expect to see products by the end of this year.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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