One of the hottest new trends is to implement VoIP on a cell phone. Short for Voice over IP, VoIP is also known by a range of other names, including internet telephony, broadband phone, and IP telephony. Essentially, instead of making use of a standard land line or cellular radio technology, VoIP phones latch onto a high-speed internet connection and provide telephone service that way. You may already be familiar with such popular brands as Skype and Vonage, two of the best-known VoIP solutions out there. But what if you could cut down on your growing cell phone bill by making use of cost-effective VoIP technology instead?
VoIP on a Cell Phone
In order to eschew wires altogether, you will first need access to a high-speed (802.11g is preferred, though certain handsets will be able to work with slower 802.11b networks) WiFi internet service. While at home, at the office, and at selected "hot spots", you'll be able to freely access WiFi, and as a result, make use of VoIP. If you have a device with WiFi connectivity -- a laptop, PDA, or similar device -- chances are that you can make use of VoIP on that item, given the appropriate configuration, software, and so on.
Two Main Technologies
Generally speaking, there are two primary VoIP technologies out there for you to consider. People who make most of their phone calls through their computer are probably more familiar with Skype. According to the official Skype website, Skype is "a little piece of software that lets you make free calls to anyone else on Skype, anywhere in the world. There is a very large Skype community out there, but you have to bear in mind that Skype uses propriety codecs and will not be compatible with certain configurations and units.
Alternatively, there are SIP-based VoIP solutions. There are many different clients that work with SIP as it is an "open protocol." The appeal of SIP is similar to that of Linux, for example, as they are both open standard and open source.
There are standalone units out there made by such computer accessory makers as Belkin, Linksys, Cisco, and Netgear. These are the same companies that oftentimes make wireless cards and routers for high-speed internet networks. However, these are not true "cell phones" because they cannot make use of a conventional cellular phone network, like that offered by Rogers Wireless, Cingular, or Alltel.
Most of these VoIP-only phones must be tethered to a computer in some way in order for them to work properly, though several companies are working on wireless VoIP phones that are completely standalone and do not require to be connected to a computer.
Dual Mode Mobile Phones
Perhaps the best possible solution is a dual-mode phone. What this means is that not only can a reasonably compact phone make use of a standard cellular network and get cell phone service in the way that you're used to, it can also latch onto a WiFi network when necessary in order to connect to the internet and make VoIP voice calls.
Typically, these phones are quite a bit more expensive than similarly-equipped handsets on the market that don't have WiFi connectivity. Moreover, most dual-mode phones are larger smartphones that also come with a bunch of other features like Microsoft Office file viewing, comprehensive personal information management software, and so on.
If you have a smartphone that runs on Windows Mobile (i.e., a "Pocket PC phone"), then you may want to consider something like Skype for Pocket PC 2.1. Also dubbed "Skype Mobile", this lets you take all the juicy Skype functionality with you anywhere you go in the world. In this way, a big advantage to having a dual-mode phone is that you can make calls throughout your worldly travels, all while having a very economical long distance calling solution.