Fujitsu has developed a prototype wireless Internet Protocol (IP) telephone handset that can also be used with conventional cellular telephone networks.
"The design of all mobile phones is dependent on the carrier," said Hideki Mitsunobu, of Fujitsu Laboratories, who was demonstrating the handset at the Fujitsu Solution Forum event in Tokyo last week.
"We can't use any software or any service because the carrier has to guard the security of its network but with this handset we can use anything easily."
The secret of the handset is a Compact Flash card slot in the top of the device into which various cellular network cards can be inserted. A GSM module can be inserted and the handset will work on GSM networks, a Personal handyphone system module inserted and it will work on Japan's PHS network, for example. Wireless Lan support is built into the handset and so is always available.
Because the mobile network interface is in a card that's already been approved by the carrier or relevant authorities, the rest of the handset requires no special approval and so can be customised or loaded with whatever software the user requires. The base operating system of the prototype is Windows CE .net version 4.2.
"It's basically a phone-shaped PDA," said Mitsunobu.
It was jointly developed by Fujitsu with Net-2Com, a venture company started from Fujitsu in 2000. It is likely to be offered first by Net-2Com and will be targeted at corporations for use in association with a Fujitsu-developed telephone system, said Noriyuki Fukuyama, a senior researcher in Fujitsu's Information Technology Core Laboratories.
Martyn Williams writes for IDG News Service