Super Crazy Rumor: Zune Phone (4G WiMax, Nationwide Music Sharing, Out in May!)


Electronica Addict
Political Access
3 Feb 2002
Well, well. Things could get very interesting!


Zune Phone Confirmed! Launch Scenario! 4G WiMax Action! Rumors Off the WTF-o-Meter

We don’t wanna say we told you so, but, ya know, we did. On Monday, Microsoft filed a mystery application with the FCC for an enigmatic wireless device that could be used to talk over the Internet. Sounds like a VoiP device, right?

Not really. The device is described as being used for “consumer broadband access and networking,” which doesn’t sound like vanilla VoIP to me. Microsoft goes on to say that the device would use OFDM as its communications protocol, not WiFi or Bluetooth. Well, why not? The standard OFDM (orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing) is a modulation scheme that is used widely in upcoming 4G standards of the future. But with wireless access gaining momentum, and the all-around arms race for bandwidth, 4G starts to make sense, in a crazy, crazy kind of way.

The idea of a next-gen, high-bandwidth capable phone sounded to these ears like the Zune Phone, so we did some poking, called some sources, and waded into the wonderful world of Zune. One thing led to another, and we’ve determined that there is a whole lot more going on at Bear Creek in Redmond than we figured.

With 3G on the rise, 4G is still the far future. With popular providers like T-Mobile still struggling to put out their 3G networks, anything beyond is sci-fi. A little digging, however, and we found this press release from August of last year, in which Sprint/Nextel announced its plans to build out a 4G network based on the IEEE 802.16e mobile WiMax standard. The 802.16 standards use OFDM, the exact same modulation protocol as the Microsoft device in the FCC filing.

Beginning to get the picture, yes?

If this all fits together, 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.

No, really.

Our source says that an iPhone competitor has been in the works for a while, and the idea of branding it as part of the Zune ecosystem, from the brown color through the interface, came as a recent decision as a response to Apple’s iPhone. The source didn’t go into details about features, as they don’t know specifics—they’re not yet all finalized. But there is one thing our source says will not only separate it from other music phones, but from iPhone as well.

Without a doubt, the biggest root of contention with the Zune users isn’t the hardware (which is very good) or the marketplace (which is likewise awesome), but the lack of other users to share music with. The WiFi sharing capabilities were the unique feature that was supposed to set the Zune apart, but unless you had another user in the area with sharing turned on, it was wasted battery, even in airports or Midtown Manhattan. (I’ve still yet to find a single person to share with. - Blake)

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.

This is a lot of information, and the reader should keep in mind that any part, if not all of it could change, as from what we know, the Zune group is just being brought up to speed on the specifics of the device. Our sources are saying that some of the hardware has been in development for quite awhile, and that the idea of making it a Zune device is relatively new.

With the iPhone having been in the rumors stage for almost two years, it makes sense that MS would have started a response as a contingency. Now that iPhone is out, and Redmond knows exactly what it’s up against, it’s an relatively easier process to finish an alternative, and bringing it to the Zune team and its Gen-Y marketing is the icing on the cake.

Of course, much of this is conjecture, but it’s logical. What’s more, our sources have never let us down and are from diverse backgrounds involved with Zune from the get-go. This is a well-thought-out response to iPhone, works perfectly with MSN Live Spaces, as well as Xbox.
We’re not entirely sure yet how much of this is going to hit, but it’s on our radar, and we’re guessing that now it’s on yours, too.


Awesome is as awesome does.
Political Access
5 Apr 2002
There's some buzz going around right now about a "Zune phone" filed with the FCC -- we did a little extra digging, and we're not really convinced that's what's at hand. We know a Zune phone is in the works, that much is abundantly clear, 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-cellphone 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; the answer was "To provide consumer broadband access and networking." (Strike two.) And then there's the above diagram which shows a computer connected via Ethernet to a radio hub system with 802.11g and outbound "wideband" uplink. Did we mention the words "Zune" or "phone" appeared precisely no times in the document? (Strike three.) A Zune phone? We think not -- yet -- but we'll know better when the filing actually hits the FCC in the near future.


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Also Hi EP and people. I found this place again while looking through a oooollllllldddd backup. I have filled over 10TB and was looking at my collection of antiques. Any bids on the 500Mhz Win 95 fix?
Any of the SP crew still out there?
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Impressed you have kept this alive this long EP! So many sites have come and gone. :(

Just did some crude math and I apparently joined almost 18yrs ago, how is that possible???
hello peeps... is been some time since i last came here.
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