VOIP services and applications for cell phones don't need to be as complicated as they sound. By using VOIP services and applications for cell phones, you can save a substantial amount of money on your monthly bill, especially if you use your mobile phone to make long distance calls.
VOIP Services and Applications for Cell Phones
While the idea of using the internet to make phone calls isn't exactly new, the idea of using the internet to make cell phone calls is a relatively new concept that is catching on. VOIP (voice-over-IP) for mobile phones is a hot topic, and there are companies worldwide racing to create killer VOIP services and applications for cell phones.
Mobile VOIP for Instant Messaging Applications
One breed of application connects you with all your favorite Instant Messengers that support voice calls, like Windows Live Messenger and Google Talk. Sometimes called voice-over IM (VoIM), these applications let you see your IM buddy list on your cell phone as well as their online presence or availability. You can then call your IM contacts directly. Your cell phone uses the internet rather than the cell network to connect you.
For example, Fring is a free VOIP application that integrates with Windows Live Messenger, GoogleTalk and Skype. If you have accounts with any of these services you can see the online presence of each of these on your mobile phone. To use Fring, you have to install an VOIP application on your cell phone, but this is an easy procedure and well supported on their web site. However, like many mobile applications, only the latest and greatest handsets are supported, such as Nokia's E-sieries and N-series multimedia phones.
Mobile VOIP for Skype
Another type of application specifically targets Skype users. Skype is the hugely popular free internet phone service that has over 100 million users calling computer-to-computer for free all over the world. With that many subscribers, it's fair to say that people who use it regularly to have built sizable buddy lists. You can imagine the advantages for some people at being able to access their buddy list while on a mobile phone. But because Skype is a closed or proprietary network, it by definition does not work with other Instant Messenger or VOIP systems. Therefore, a new breed of VOIP application for cell phones has emerged.
Fring, discussed earlier, integrates with Skype as well as other IMs, but there are a host of others that just do Skype. For example, EQO is a free mobile Skype solutions. All you have to do is download and install an application on your smartphone. Skype also has its own download, called Skype Mobile for PocketPC and Windows Mobile.
Mobivox, on the other hand, takes a different approach. Mobivox works on any handset and uses voice or keystroke prompts to dial Skype buddies. Instead of installing something on your phone, to use Mobivox all you have to do is dial an access number for your area, and then speak the name of the Skype buddy you want to dial. The voice recognition software behind Mobivox is excellent and really works.
Long Distance Savings
Another type of VOIP application for cell phones targets customers wanting to reduce the roaming charges and long distance or international calling costs on their cell phone bill. These services basically bypass the cell phone network and route your call over the internet at significantly cheaper rates.
For example, GizmoVOIP is the VOIP software bundled with the Nokia N80i handset. When you use Nokia's internet telephone option to dial, GizmoVOIP sets up the call using the internet, and you pay low Gizmo rates. Truphone is another such application geared towards Nokia handsets.
With JaJah Mobile VOIP application, you can make free mobile calls to to other Jajah registered users, or calls to other numbers at low rates.
RebTel is a service for discounted long distance and international mobile calling that works with any handset and on any cell phone network, and doesn't require a phone download. All you do is enter the number of the person you're calling and RebTel gives both you and the other party a local RebTel number to use. When you dial the number, you're connected with your friend, but at a local rate instead of long distance or international rate. You pay RebTel another rate on top but it's low, around 2 cents per minute. For free international calls, all you do is tell your friend to hang up and call you back right away using the RebTel the number displayed on their phone. You don't hang up when they do but stay on the line. When they ring you back, you are connected via the internet and can talk for free for as long as you want. It sounds a little quirky, but it works.
What's really interesting about these emerging mobile internet phone services is that there's much more to it than just making calls and lower rates. txtDrop, for example, is another service provided by GizmoProject that lets you send free SMS messages from your computer to any mobile phone worldwide. TalkPlus gives you a second mobile phone number for free that you can use as your office phone, dating phone, or personal number. It gives you an added level of privacy if you don't like giving out your personal number to people you don't know. And when you call someone back on your mobile, you can specify which caller ID you want to display on their phone. This means that you can look like you're calling back from the office, even though you're really at home.
Cost of VOIP Services and Applications for Cell Phones
So what's the cost of using these new mobile VOIP services and applications? In most cases, it doesn't cost you anything to download or register. For example, you can download Fring, Truphone and GizmoVOIP for free. You will pay, however, to make calls to regular landlines, or non-registered users, but the rates are usually far lower than your cell phone company. You also pay to access the internet via your mobile phone and these costs depend on your cell phone plan and the type of handset you're using.
If you have a dual mode phone, such as the Nokia N80i, with built-in Wi-Fi (wireless internet) capabilities, you can use free public Wi-Fi hotspots to access the internet, and thereby save even more money. If you use your mobile as your primary telephone, even at home, you can use your home wireless network to access the internet and dial out.
However, beware of mobile carriers who have bans on using VOIP on their networks. Since technically VOIP traffic cuts into the regular cell traffic, mobile carriers are less than enthusiastic about these new VOIP services and applications for cell phones and it may take awhile before both can co-exist happily.