By Dennis Jones
Intel has historically had a big problem: how to break into mobile? Specifically, how to get its chips into smartphones with carriers blocking the way? It’s been an expensive problem, yearly costing the chipmaking giant billions. As their recent announcement suggests, Intel’s solution might have been as simple as Wi-Fi all along. Intel is now working with FreedomPop, known for its low-cost mobile plans, to launch the world’s first smartphone designed to be Wi-Fi First by 2016.
When it hits stores, the Wi-Fi-focused smartphone will include free cellular phone service, as FreedomPop purchases wireless spectrum wholesale from Sprint.
The new device will use Intel’s Sofia (short for Smart or Feature phone with Intel Architecture) mobile chipset, which debuted in 2013. Until now, the Sofia chipset has mostly been geared towards lower-end budget phones. But with FreedomPop, the chipset will enable smartphones to switch seamlessly from Wi-Fi to cellular (and back) during a call.
Intel’s partnership is further proof, if needed, that it’s truly Wi-Fi’s moment. At a core level, the new smartphone is specifically designed to maximize the massive proliferation of Wi-Fi hotspots. And from a data perspective, the overwhelming majority of mobile downloads now go over Wi-Fi and no longer over crammed cellular networks. That makes Wi-Fi First the smart option.
Intel and FreedomPop: a recipe for Wi-Fi First