In our previous article on the Bluephone published back in August our readers had a glimpse of what British Telecom was testing.
Reports that BT is now working towards having the product finalised in time for Xmas started appearing on the internet, but a BT e-zine says it's penciled for April 2004. The marketing campaing for this product is budget for around £5 million.
The Bluephone idea is to have dual-mode fixed/wireless handset. It means you can use a mobile phone when in Bluephone-enabled sites and you make your call via your mobile phone over the fixed network rather than mobile network.
The user needs to be within range of a Bluephone-enabled site - home, office or maybe some public sites such as coffee shops - to have the call go across the PSTN network. When out of range, the handset will act as a standard mobile phone and send and receive calls over the GSM network.
Initial testing was done with Sony Ericsson P800 mobile phones, but this can be changed in the future.
The technology e-zine Sphere, published by BT, brings an insightful article on this new concept of "everywhere phone". The article says:
"A mobile that works over the fixed network - mobility, flexibility, simplicity and...cheaper calls. BT is the first telecoms company to work on this unique application of modern technology to bring customers high quality 'on-the-move' calls at a low cost.
It is simple. One phone that can be used anywhere - home, office or on-the-move in public Bluephone enables sites. It acts like a mobile but it has better reception, better voice quality and is cheaper to use than a mobile because it operates over BT's fixed line network.
Project Bluephone - the name was inspired by the Bluetooth wi-fi technology it uses - began in April 2003 and a public launch is pencilled in for April 2004. The 12-month development stage could be considered almost leisurely for John Lee - the man who developed and launched BT Openzone in six months."
The technology behind the Bluephone was licensed from an Australian company called Norwood Systems.