BT and Sony to bring VoIP to PSP

Sony PSPBT and Sony have inked a four year deal that will see the two companies bring voice calls, video conferencing, and IM functionality to PlayStationPortable (PSP) users across Europe. The partnership intends to integrate the PSP with BT’s existing broadband video and voice ‘softphone’ products, and in the following months, additional features will be launched to enable calls and messages to PCs, fixed lines and mobiles. The service will initially roll-out in the UK, with other parts of European to follow.

In a joint press release, Steve Andrews, BT chief, Mobility and Convergence, is quoted as saying:

“The PSP is an excellent device for both gaming and communications, because of its high quality screen and audio capabilities. With over 8 million PSPs shipped across Europe, we are very excited by the opportunity to give customers a whole new communications experience, connecting and seeing friends across the world through BT’s technology”.

It’s certainly true that Sony’s hand held game console has a very nice screen and good audio, but I can see a couple of issues holding it back from being a really useful communications device. Instant Messaging will be a pain, as there is no touch screen or physical keyboard. Additionally, the machine will have to connect over WiFi, and in the UK at least, we are far from free or low cost ubiquitous WiFi access, and I don’t think the PSP’s younger users are going to have the spending power to hang out at Starbucks all day long — making it OK for use around the home, but not really viable as a mobile communications device.

Update: The BBC has more details, including a video demonstrating the snap-on video camera for video calls. Also of note, the new PSP functionality will only work on home or BT wireless hotspots because it utilises BT’s 21 Century Network (21CN), which is specifically designed for Internet Protocol (IP) technology such as VoIP.

last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

9 Responses to “BT and Sony to bring VoIP to PSP”

  1. fesja says:

    good point steve, but what about the deal between BT and FON? It can make more sense then…

  2. Steve O'Hear (editor) says:

    I’ve updated the post with more details, and it seems that the service will only work with BT Internet connections — which I don’t think includes FON.

  3. fesja says:

    ah, oks. Now it’s not possible unless in a future FON improves its “routers” to include 21CN, what I don’t think.

    How much do BT wireless hotspots cost in Britain? Because they have to be competitive with the mobile to get some market.

  4. […] BT & Sony bring Voip to the PSP – Last100 […]

  5. ‘The PSP is an excellent device for both gaming and communications, because of its high quality screen and audio capabilities.

  6. […] new venture follows a recently announced partnership between BT and Sony which will see the two companies bring voice calls, video conferencing, and IM […]

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  8. […] In our earlier coverage, I noted that the PSP’s lack of a touchscreen maybe an issue when using the device for instant messaging. In response to these shortcomings, BT claims that the “Go!Messenger” software introduces “a new and intuitive on screen keyboard” which, presumably, goes someway to addresses this — although, until I get my hands on the software, I remain skeptical. However, for voice calls — and video, using the accompanying “G0!Cam” — the PSP will be perfectly adequate, especially with its gorgeous screen. […]

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