The world's second-largest carrier is using CeBIT
to demonstrate something very un-telecom-giant-like: integration with Internet calling services. Perhaps realizing that VoIP isn't about to just disappear like a bad dream, Vodafone has thrown together a demo app called "Starfish" that connects its handsets to all manner of voice-enabled IM services -- Skype included. Voda's wireless data network can breathe a sigh of relief, though; calls are mercifully routed via the traditional voice airwaves to some magical black box in the carrier's control, which then switches the remainder of the call over to the 'Net. Of course, such goodness stands to lose Vodafone fistfuls of cash, since calls that were once billed at international rates are now nothing more than a local hop to the radio base station -- no wonder, then, that the company is being wishy-washy about Starfish ever seeing the light of day: "We have not yet decided if we will launch it, or the commercial terms and prices."