Rabbit Redux, Yet Again

I’ll have some more on the Symbian news in a bit, but thought I’d get this up first. Russell’s apparently a bit of a mobile history buff, and something he’s mentioned before is Hutchison’s Rabbit phone system, which it launched in May 1992… and shut down in December 1993. Rabbit was a great big cordless phone system. Users carried a Rabbit handset around, and when they were within 100m of a Rabbit transmitter, they could make calls. Incoming calls simply weren’t offered — so it’s hard not to see the limited attraction of this sort of service.

Fast forward to 2008, and the Rabbit history lesson is still useful, what with the launch of mobile VoIP services that work only over Wi-Fi, or even with services calling themselves “mobile” phone networks. Check out UK01, which bills itself as “the UK’s 6th mobile phone network.” The company behind UK01 won one of the low-power GSM licenses offered by Ofcom last year, so they’re rolling out their picocells on “hundreds of payphone kiosks”. Interesting, right?

Give a spotter’s badge to Patrick at SMS Text News, who noticed an important detail on the site’s instructions page: “When you leave the UK01 location simply change SIM cards.” Meaning put the SIM from your real operator back into your phone. UK01 does give you a number so people can call you, but that call will only go through if you’re in range of one of their picocells (the site doesn’t give any indication where they are, by the way) and have the SIM in. Otherwise, it’s voicemail.

Sound familiar?

(Also, yes, I did notice that UK01’s site is at http://uk01.mobi, and it doesn’t seem to serve up mobile content if you visit it from a handset browser, and it of course fails the ready.mobi test. And yes, I thought that thing was supposed to be against the rules of .mobi, as it sort of undermines the whole position that when people see a .mobi site, they know it’s for their mobile phone, and so on…)

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