And Now the Zune Phone?

Microsoft FTC filing
There has been some speculation that Microsoft was going to release a Zune Phone ever since Apple announced their new iPhone. Two articles today talked about Microsoft filing with the Federal Communications Commission, and that filing suggests the technology giant will likely add phone service to its line of hand-held media players, known as the Zune. The article on Marketwatch said it would be a wireless advice using OFDM.

In the filing, Microsoft describes a wireless device that utilizes OFDM, a technology that can be used to route digital TV and voice calls among devices. Versions of OFDM have been tested and deployed for mobile phone use by carriers including Sprint Nextel Corp. and closely-held Clearwire Corp.

Microsoft is part of a broad coalition of tech companies that has lobbied regulators for expanded wireless access to the Internet. Others in the coalition, which are mentioned in the filing as taking part in submitting the device for testing, include Google Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Intel Corp.

The coalition has focused on encouraging the FCC to make unused wireless spectrum — originally allotted for things like digital TV — available for Internet communication. Source: Microsoft to submit wireless device for FCC testing

Talk has been it will be a VOIP, voice over IP, mobile phone, while the iPhone is a cell phone, or a smart phone. Microsoft has stated that it will be used for consumer broadband access and networking. There is some big speculation going on at Crunchgear, saying it will be using WiMax and taking the social nationwide.

The Zune Phone remedies this by allowing you to share music not via WiFi, but via WiMax, so that anyone on your friends list who is online can sample your music, and vice versa. By using the mobile WiMax network, you can be in New York and your friend can be in San Jose and you can send him that Shins song you like.

By taking the proximity limitations from an otherwise sound idea and reversing them macro-syle, Microsoft opens up the Zune experience to everyone, making the ecosystem reach from coast-to-coast. The Social, as they say, goes national. We love the idea, as it really frames the concept of portable social networking in a wide, wide light. Source: Zune Phone Confirmed! Launch Scenario! 4G WiMax Action! Rumors Off the WTF-o-Meter

Lots and lots of speculation. Bill was asked recently about a Zune phone and he said no, but they have submitted this to the FTC, and they have said it will offer broadband access and networking. Their source did say that this has been in development for awhile, but is just now being rolled into the Zune. Time will tell.

Added: Engadget has dug some more into the FTC filing and says this probably doesn’t have anything to do with the Zune Phone, though they say they know one is coming.

…but what passed through the FCC was a pre-approval application document that ran down a list of questions the FCC had for a CE “coalition” consisting of Microsoft, Dell, Google, HP, Intel, Philips, who are apparently in on some device together. (Strike one. You really think Microsoft’s gonna collaborate on the Zune phone? And with that many non-cell phone carrier companies?) From what we can tell, it’ll be wireless (duh) with DTV signal detection and transmission (i.e. cognitive radio), and BPSK, WPSK (and likely QAM) modulation and OFDM. Doesn’t mean a lot to most people, we know, but the FCC plainly asked the consortium to describe the product’s purpose… Source: Debunk: Microsoft files for Zune phone with FCC — probably not

But, they do say, they will know for sure when the filing actually hits the FTC in the near future.