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For the past three months I have been doing part-time research and development work for Metakall, a research commercialization project that was born at the Centre for Telecommunications Value-Chain Research (CTVR). The main idea behind Metakall is that we provide the technology to allow end users to pay wireless hotspot operators small amounts of cash in real time for network access. Instead of maintaining subscriptions or buying fixed amounts of access, Metakall users dynamically pay just for the network connectivity service they need for a single VoIP call, or to read their email messages. We are currently conducting an internal to CTVR small scale user trial, with a larger scale user trial with external participants planned to follow shortly.

At the moment I cannot discuss the technical details of our solution due to a pending patent application, but I am happy to report that our prototype implementation is fully portable. We currently support most Windows flavors (including Windows Mobile and Windows CE of course), Linux and Mac OS X. Metakall’s focus on portability constantly gives me the opportunity to experiment with various Linux-based devices; from the first generation SIP phone Linksys WIP300 that is based on uClinux, to the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet, to the impressive OpenMoko that I have just started exploring. Strictly from a developer’s point of view, the Nokia 770 device is currently my favorite platform. However, the completely open nature and the vision behind OpenMoko is something that greatly appeals to me. I eagerly anticipate the second version of the OpenMoko phone (expected this October) that will add a wireless interface, giving us the means to fully deploy the Metakall software on this exciting platform.