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Microsoft to launch iPhone rival?

Crunch Gear is reporting that it has confirmed rumors of a Microsoft Zune Phone. Would that be a zPhone?
Written by David Berlind, Inactive

Crunch Gear is reporting that it has confirmed rumors of a Microsoft Zune Phone. Would that be a zPhone? According to Crunch Gear's Matt Hickey whose hook was a Microsoft filing with the FCC (all cell phone manufacturers must register their devices with the FCC):

....it looks like MS is working on a mobile WiMax-enabled Zune Phone, which would have download speeds of up to 2Mbps, fast enough for the Xbox-to-Zune streaming we’ve heard about, and fast enough for just about anything else the Zune Phone might be used for.

So now that we know that the Zune Phone is real, and that it’s in development, what else can we say about it? Tons.

The first real news is that we can expect to hear an announcement from Redmond about it before March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, at which time we should learn the name of the device. At the same time, we should also learn other launch specifics, and here’s where it gets incredibly juicy; our source says that, pending FCC approval, the specter-like Zune Phone will hit the streets sometime in May, a full month before the iPhone.

Hickey goes pretty deep on the details citing "a source" and as best as he can tell, it will use OFDM (orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing) wireless technology -- a wireless tech that's commonly associated with 802.16e a.k.a. WiMax. Then he connects the dots to Sprextel's plans to launch a WiMax network and the resulting image is a phone. 

But correct me if I'm wrong...for such a phone to succeed, major municipalities would need to be blanketed with a WiMax signal or some other OFDM network. Looking back at the rollouts of the various 3G networks, these sorts of infrastructure upgrades normally take years. Hickey touches on some possible local area schemes involving WiMax-based xBox connectivity as well as VoIP which would seem to be a lot more practical.  In other words, an xBox (or a PC for that matter) could serve as a VoIP gateway to the VoIP service that's a part of Microsoft's Windows Live Messenger.

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