Sony and British Telecom announced a new joint venture today that allows UK residents the ability to place and receive VoIP and video calls between PSPs and supporting PCs. Initially the service will only work at BT wireless hotspots, but future plans include the expansion to include 100 countries across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Sadly, American PSP owners won’t be allowed to play, at least not yet.
“There are no plans currently to bring this service to the US,” said Sony’s Dave Karraker in speaking to GigaOM. Bummer for the 7.4 million PSP owners living here. Sony had offered Skype connectivity to the owners of Mylo, a communicator type device, that has vanished liked the Yeti.
BT has a deal with Wi-Fi sharing service FON, and this service could play nicely with BT’s longer term plans. Om had reported that “the senior management of the British incumbent carrier was pretty bullish on the whole notion of dual-mode phones and municipal wireless. They talked about their Fusion strategy quite excitedly.” This deal with Sony will possibly allow BT to realize its ambitions to provide voice services over Wi-Fi networks.
To accommodate the four-year deal, Sony will be shipping VoIP-enabled PSPs with the necessary preloaded software (video here ). No word yet if the new PSP will include a much rumored face lift. BT also said the service would later support landline and mobile phone calls over multiple networks.
Since first launching in December of 2004, more than 24 million PSPs have been sold worldwide with 8 million in Europe. We’d be surprised if Sony and another telco didn’t eventually launch the same service stateside. Then again, we wouldn’t be shocked if it failed to materialize either.
Nintendo once showcased a VoIP service called DSpeak at E3 2004, but the service was never commercialized. Rather, it is now used for many popular DS games as a multi-player VoIP feature on the company’s Wi-Fi network.