UTStarcom F3000 – First 2nd Generation WIFI Phone?

March 9, 2006 by Garrett Smith

UTStarcom has been one of several successful entrants into the WIFI VoIP handset space in recent months. Their initial product, the F1000, set the preliminary standard in terms of usability, feature set and price point. Other vendors including Hitachi-Cable and Zyxel have also brought wireless SIP handsets to market based on the 802.11XX WIFI standard.

The initial crop of wireless VOIP phones all seemed to have their own individual strengths and weaknesses. With the upcoming release of the F3000, UTStarcom seems to have built upon the successful foundation established with the F1000, and have set about addressing some of the limitations and inadequacies of first generation WIFI VOIP handsets.

The UTStarcom F3000 has added support for the current encumbent 802.11G Wireless standard.

The UTstarcom F3000 promises increased security with the addition of WPA encryption, which utilizes the temporal key integrity protocol (TKIP). TKIP utilizes a hashing algorithm to scramble the keys and, by adding an integrity-checking feature, ensures that the keys have not been tampered with.

User authentication, which is generally missing in WEP, through the extensible authentication protocol (EAP). WEP regulates access to a wireless network based on a computers hardware-specific MAC address, which is relatively simple to be sniffed out and stolen. EAP is built on a more secure public-key encryption system to ensure that only authorized network users can access the network.

The preliminary spec we have seen for the UTStarcom F3000 promises to address one of the major factors which has limited the mass-adoption potential of first generation Wireless VoIP handsets, namely Handover/Roaming between different AP and SSID. The ability to “roam” between various access points and SSID within a WIFI network, without losing call connectivity of SIP registration in the process, will seriously bolster the case for WIFI VOIP adoption.

Finally, some aesthetic enhancements are evident in the new F3000, including a larger, color LCD screen and a clamshell form factor typical of current mobile/cellular/GSM phones.

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