A WIFI VOIP ROAMING SERVICE has gone live in the UK, promising wandering Brits a means to turn wireless networks into 4G phone connections.
Anyfi.net comes from a Swedish firm looking for shake up the wireless broadband and mobile phone network businesses, much like Abba did UK surburbanites in the seventies. In a missive today it said that its technology will let Internet service providers give their customers acess to wireless accounts wherever they go. This, they added, could then be used as a mobile phone network.
"Until now WiFi hotspots have been difficult to use and inherently insecure. Our solution works with any WiFi device out of the box and provides fully automatic WPA security" said Björn Smedman, CEO of Anyfi.
What Anyfi does is to merge WiFi with Internet protocol, effectively 'breaking' ties between account and physical location. "You can think of it as WiFi over IP", added Smedman. "Our cloud based matchmaking service keeps track of each device's favorite network and makes sure it is available from the closest access point. By forwarding the raw WiFi radio traffic over the Internet we can ensure security, even if an attacker is in control of the access point."
In theory, Anyfi can let users make cheap phone calls whenever they are in range of a wireless connection, regardless of who that connection belongs to. On the other side of the deal, ISPs can route calls through to their users on the network, simply by checking their wireless location.
The service can transform the way that telecoms firms do business. For example, Anyfi said that a fixed-line operator with a high number of broadband subscribers in a particular area could "become a mobile operator overnight by simply upgrading the modem software".
Anyfi reckons that it will help make the most of wireless connections, and take up spare capacity that might otherwise be lost on other devices.
"Today only about one to two per cent of residential broadband capacity is actually used," said Smedman. "The rest just goes to waste. At the same time we are seeing mobile networks brought to their knees under the load of data-hungry devices like the Iphone. If you can guarantee that there is no negative impact whatsoever to the subscriber, why not use some of that spare capacity to offload mobile?"
Why not indeed? Well for one thing, there does appear to be some entrenched mobile operator resistance to free mobile communications. You need only consider the mobile networks' delays in offering availability of Skype to realise that. µ