updated 05:30 pm EST, Thu February 8, 2007
FCC Zune Phone Hint
Microsoft has filed for approval of a wireless device that may point to the all but confirmed Zune phone, according to an FCC approval request found by MarketWatch. The listing refers to an orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) device to be used for "consumer broadband access and networking." As OFDM is typically only used for wideband wireless signals -- including large-scale WiMAX networks, digital video broadcasts, and select Wi-Fi formats -- the technology has already raised eyebrows among technology analysts who suspect that Microsoft is already completing parts of a new Zune player that would also have VoIP functions.
Though the FCC approval does not specifically reference any current or future Zune media players, analyst Rob Enderle suggested that the need to approve a device beyond the existing Wi-Fi of the Zune suggested an "internet device or a mobile VoIP phone" that would avoid using cellular networks entirely.
If included as part of the Zune, the OFDM device would point to a very different strategy for Microsoft's increasingly likely hybrid device when compared to the Apple iPhone. Microsoft would probably depend solely on Wi-Fi hotspots and other Internet-based connection areas to avoid the cellular carrier lock-in now faced by Apple, Enderle said.
The application also listed Google, HP, and Intel as supporters, indicating that the FCC submission was spurred on in part by members of a larger coalition aiming to loosen bandwidth restrictions on wireless access to the Internet.