Microsoft announced its intent to develop a Zune phone last September. Now, details have emerged that could shed some light on what Microsoft is planning. Earlier this week, Microsoft filed an FCC application for a “consumer broadband access and networking” wireless device that uses OFDM (orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing), a technology that can send large amounts of data (like digital TV or voice calls) very quickly.
OFDM is used by a number of wireless standards (like WiMAX) but is not part of the cellular standards. Essentially, this device would make calls over VOiP. The benefit of such an approach would be that Microsoft would not need to partner with any wireless carrier.
There are other benefits to using a standard like WiMAX and its download speeds of up to 2Mbps. Microsoft could offer streaming from an Xbox to a Zune or song sharing that would no longer be limited to nearby Zunes but available to any on the network (eg, like sending a new song to a friend across town or the country).
OFDM has already been tested and deployed for mobile phones by carriers like Sprint and Clearwire Corp.
One word of caution: The Zune is never mentioned in the FCC filing.