Mobile-VoIP operator Truphone has expanded its offering with the launch of Truphone Anywhere, giving users access to their Truphone minutes from the cellular network. Truphone offers cheap calls for Wi-Fi handsets when they're on the data network, but from tomorrow the Anywhere version of the company's downloadable software will …
... all this is is now making the Truephone network available over a telephone number, in addition to a 3G data connection and Wifi. It does mean that now people who don't have a 3G data plan or wifi available can use it, although they would be advised to get a package that includes inclusive minutes for local numbers if they don't want to be charged twice.
But if you've got an inclusive package for minutes why...never mind I'm sure there is a use for this service somewhere.
WiFi is still normally lower cost in the medium term
3's Skype handsets only allow Skype to Skype calls, whereas Truphone allows calls to any telephone.
It is true that a given outbound call will often be the same marginal cost for a customer in the short term whether placed over WiFi or using bundled cellular minutes for network access via Truphone Anywhere, but that ignores the medium term opportunity of reducing the bundle size (and paying a lower monthly fee). Also, WiFi is typically much cheaper when travelling abroad. Truphone gives customers two good options, which work well together.
Truphone inbound via WiFi is useful for customers to make free Truphone to Truphone calls, for people who pay for inbound calls, and for those who don't have good cellular coverage. Truphone only makes a very small amount of revenue from inbound calls however, so giving customers more ways to save money on outbound calls is economically more significant.
Still not practical though...
I gave truphone a try, mainly because the launch offer included free calls to UK land lines and about 40 other countries. So, using my home broadband, the calls were effectively free. I was very impressed with the call quality - a lot better than skype for example plus the convenience of integration with my handset - but there was one huge flaw in the plan. With WiFi in use, my phone's battery lasted about 30 mins and I usually get pretty good life out of it. Yes, since I was using it from home I could keep it on charge, but out-and-about it renders the service useless...
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