Announced today, the newest release of Truphone – the VoIP solution for S60 handsets (iPhone is planned) Ewan discussed recently – has added an important feature to it’s existing WiFi-based features… routing calls over the mobile network itself via a local dial-in number or via a call-back mechanism. This allows people out of range of a WiFi hotspot (including a number of commercial ones for which an extra charge applies) and without a suitable 3G data tariff (or just reception) to continue to use the on-phone client as before. Depending on use this option costs the user either a call to a standard land-line or a text message (used to initiate the call-back), although the application takes care of establishing the calls regardless of the method chosen.
The greatest benefit will be to those using Truphone’s flat pricing (3p to landlines, 15p to mobiles) structure for international calling to supported countries (some locations such as the USA are 3pm for all calls) who can now access it from any location with a GSM signal, but either mechanism can be selected via the client for other calls too, for example to reduce high per minute charges on pre-pay tariffs. Local numbers and similar pricing benefits are available to users in all the countries Truphone operates in.
This is an evolutionary step for Truphone – it’s the same mechanism a number of other providers already use (including the iSkoot-provided Skypephone service from 3 and RebTel’s local dial-though service) although packaged nicely for those able to run the client. However it makes sense to eliminate one of the current major criticisms that a WiFi or battery-munching 3G signal was required.
The client is available to download (existing users log-in and select the option to re-download the client from the account management page) and initial testing showed it to be as slick and easy as ever both in installation and use – I’m still amazed at the audio quality that can be achieved over 3G, but that might not be something to use regularly unless you have a particularly understanding network operator…
The next major step will be for Truphone to take advantage of their recent Sim4Travel aquisition and launch their own virtual operator issuing its own SIMs and enabling roaming data – something we’re eagerly anticipating and is promised soon.