Archive for the ‘VoIP’ Category

Vonage plans to become Vonage Wireless

February 20, 2007

Vonage is looking to prevent its VoIP ship from sinking by making a switch over to wireless side of world. And this news comes with a new name for the cheap calls for all provider- rebranded as Vonage Wireless. According to a BusinessWeek report, Vonage is planning the MVNO route as it struggles with falling customer acquisition rate for its traditional business and competition intensifies from  cable companies, bad-old telcos, and likes of SunRocket, Skype,… which are all eating into Vonage’s market share. And all this is happening while Vonage fights out with Verizon over patent dispute related to use of the core technology behind its system. The patent claims, which cover pretty broad part of Vonage service including fraud detection, billing, and features such as call-forwarding, threaten the very existence of Vonage service and other VoIP providers. 

Coming back to the MVNO plans, Vonage has not disclosed much details in regards to what exactly it plans to offer. Will it be another hippy targeted Virgin Mobile in making, or Vonage would finally try to do something disruptive, which we have no hopes off. According to BW, during its last earnings call Vonage had indicated that it will start selling dual-mode phones offering cellular as well as Wi-Fi access. Bigger issue will always remain the same, where does Vonage get the WiFi beamed onto these mobiles. Partnerships with Clearwire, Earthlink(which, by the way won the Houston WiFi buildout contract last week) could give its WiFi phones broader coverage. On the whole I can see a pretty patchy plan in making that would somehow manage to wade the Vonage ship forward.


MINO’s mobile VoIP gets $7 million; What for?

February 15, 2007

The Sunnyvale, CA based mobile VoIP startup MINO Wireless has raised $7M in funding from Canaan Partners. This is Series B round of funding for MINO, which had earlier raised $1.5 million from in April of last year from TNP on the Road (Japan/Silicon Valley Fund), Freeze, AWE net, and few angel investors.

Last time I had written about MINO was when it had registered its100Kth user. That was 5 months back. A lot has changed in these ensuing months(Fring, Truphone, Jajah….to name a few) which makes it hard for me understand such a big investment. MINO claims that people can make cheaper international calls using its service from their mobile phones via a mobile app or WAP browser. Offering only cheaper calls to any phone, anywhere in the world, is a losers game. Jajah, Gizmo, SunRocket, and many more are already it. Once again for comparison purposes lets talk about cost of call to India from US. MINO -12.4 cents, Jajah – 9 cents, SunRocket – 8 cents, RelianceIndiaCall – 7.4 cents, Startec – 7.9 cents. All these are still much better than 17.7 cents that Skypeout charges or 17.4 cents that Gizmo does. Clearly MINO is not the winner nor the loser. Calling card route is not the easiest in the shorter term but it is going to be the winner as it seems. On the top of these higher rates, MINO also requires you to have a data plan or at least use date network to initiate calls. These are additional $$’s that go unaccounted for.

As compared to Vonage et al. MINO claims –

“However, with these desktop solutions, subscribers must purchase and install special hardware to take advantage of the lower costs of making international calls using VoIP.

I can understand the good intentions of MINO, but they don’t workout that well for MINO itself. Sticky point for Vonage is the phone number, that MINO doesn’t have. Once a consumer gets the VoIP number and gives it out to his friend circle, he/she is stuck with it. With no real easy know way to migrate VoIP phone number to another service provider, consumers are forced to stay with with the service even if the prices are higher. This is not the case with MINO, where an appreciable difference in pricing can cause users to switch.

My feeling is give the mobile device market another year as the WiFi enabled devices get wider acceptance and data rates fall. Then Fring, Truphone, Barablu, and Nimbuzz would be all set to shake up the international calling market.

On the whole, above stands true unless MINO has some other plans for the $7 million.


Truphone dials Google Talk

February 7, 2007

Truphone today announced that it has added support for Google Talk. The new feature enables mobile users to call their friends on a pc and vice versa. All these calls are for free! Truphone has yet to add presence for the Google Talk contacts on your mobile.

Fring and Nimbuzz already support calling to Google Talk and Skype users. As always, all updates get added to the dynamic Mobile VoIP cheatsheet.

On the other hand, it seems that SIPphone/Gizmo is struggling to define direction and gain traction with users. SIPphone is now giving the web-based Gizmocall users 5 minutes of FREE calling per day without registering, or 10 minutes per day when they register. Even Mino is giving some rebates for its mobile service. I am not sure what will be the shelf life for the half-way technologies like Jajah, or Mino, or Gizmocall, when Fring, Nimbuzz, and Truphone are rapidly expanding their feature set and device coverage, and enable unlimited-time calls for free.

Fring launches Wi-Fi connectivity

January 31, 2007

Fring has  finally launched its new release that enables connectivity over the Wi-Fi networks. Also comes as part of the new release is support for Symbian 9 devices. Fring device list now looks pretty impressive that includes Nokia 6630, 6680, 6681, 6682, N70, N72, N80, N80i, N90.  Application is in preview phase for Nokia N71, N73, N75, N91, N92, N93, E60, E61 and E70, where features may operate partially.

With 3G, Wi-Fi, and GPRS connectivity all covered, Fring team is working on some really interesting features to watch-out for.

Fring WiFi on Nokia screenshots


Nuvoiz readies softphone for enterprise

January 31, 2007

Bringing softphone based VoIP to corporates has never really gotten off the ground due to the obvious lack of a standards-based application that gives IT teams ease of management. Unofficially Skype gets the most traffic mainly from SMBs while larger companies are looking for block out Skype for obvious lack of management controls. Mountain View, CA based Nuvoiz(simply put — New Voice) will be looking to fill this important gap in the enterprise VoIP when it launches its comprehensive Enterprise Softphone System at DEMO. With $3 million in funding from Yozan Inc. of Japan, and more than a year under development, Nuvoiz does sound prepared for the target market.

Features IT departments will love – Integration with PBX systems, SIP and XMPP compliance making it easier to integration with other services, NAT and firewall traversal with Nuvoiz VoIP Network Controller, tools for management at the back-end, and integration with company LDAP. Nuvoiz is planning ahead times in terms of platforms it will support. Initial planned support include softphone for Windows XP/2K as well as Windows Mobile 5.0 and 2003 with development for Symbian client underway. From mobile standpoint, Nuvoiz is targeting dual mode handsets which will enable wider coverage of service. Nuvoiz has also developed a smart way in which it will work with regular telecom infrastructure. Companies can enable Nuvoiz to use the office phone extensions on the softphone located on either the PC or on mobile. So any call people receive, they will be able to access it from any of the 3 locations – phone, PC, mobile. Alternatively the softphone can be assigned a separate phone extension and can be configured to ring in case the call on the regular phone goes unanswered. And in case a user with Windows Mobile based phone is out of office, but has access to WiFi, he/she can still make calls to his/her colleagues on their office network due to the superior Nuvoiz NAT and firewall traversal technology.

According to Jim Koh, CEO Nuvoiz, they have already signed up 6 corporate customers for the service in US and Japan. Nuvoiz also has some other interesting products they are working on like the Fast Access Point Handover for Mobile VoIP over Wi-Fi. Should be an interesting company to watch out for when all Skype is doing is making noise about enterprise VoIP without any concrete solution at hand.


Cheatsheet – mobile VoIP and WiFi upstarts

January 18, 2007

With an ever increasing number of startups offering services to make your international calls cheaper, it is getting confusing for me to keep track of who offers what. So I sat down and spent the last couple of hours preparing the below shown spreadsheet that bring most of the important factors in one place.

There might be few things out of place, especially for Skype and iSkoot. If you find any corrections, put in the comments and I will update the spreadsheet.

EditGrid Spreadsheet


To get the real user opinion, lets also have a poll for some of the startups from above:

More mobi-fi news — Skype to work on N800

January 9, 2007

Nokia today announced at CES that it will work with Skype to build mobile version of IM/Voice client for Nokia N800. Nokia N800, which comes as an update for N770, was officially launched at CES yesterday. I had written about this upcoming news last year/last month.

Making Skype work on the tablet is a great idea but a difficult sell ’cause of the prohibitive price($350) of the tablet. I can’t imagine everyone rushing to get N800 just for Skype. Gizmo had done similar integration for N770 last year, but we have yet to see any stats on the uptake or the count of people using it for serious calling. Broad device support is what is required from Skype to better compete with upstarts like Fring, Truphone, and Gizmo who already have 1+ year lead in development of the technology.

Nokia Press Release

Truphone gets big money

January 9, 2007

Truphone, the London based startup that enables free mobile-mobile calls over WiFi, has closed one of the biggest Series A round in the recent history. Truphone today announced a funding round of $24.5m(£12.5 million). The funding round was led by Wellington Partners, and participated by Independent News & Media and Burda Digital Ventures.

It was only last week that I had written about upcoming release of Fring’s WiFi enabled application and few other startups competing the this space. Innovative efforts by companies like Truphone, Fring, Gizmo, and Nokia  are set to disrupt traditional wireless business model. Truphone’s big funding round shows the reconignition this fact and that mobile over WiFi is a viable option especially for areas with poor wireless coverage while also enabling free mobile-mobile international calls.


Jajah dials India cheaper

January 4, 2007

Few months back I had written about Jajah’s high priced call plans especially to India and how they should realize the opportunity at hand. Just before the new year, Jajah announced a huge reduction in the calling rates to India, launch of Hindi version of the site, and addition of new countries to its Free Calling Zone.

Calls to India through Jajah now cost 7 eurocents a minute or 8.97 UScents a minute. These rates still need come down before customers will even think of really switching over to Jajah. I hope Jajah is not planning to compete with Vonage which charges 17 cents/minute and was always playing the loosing game on the international scene. One of the most popular calling companies for India is RelianceIndiaCall which charges 7.4 cents/minute, while another company Startec charges 7.9 cents/minute, and SunRocket charging 8 cents/ minute(after 20% credit back at the end of each year).


Fring WiFi on Nokia screenshots

January 4, 2007

Couple of day back I had written about the upcoming launch of Fring on WiFi network. For those really eager ones like me, below are couple of exclusive screenshots for Fring+WiFi+Nokia-


Fring to work on WiFi soon