Jonathan Jensen on Thursday – DeFi in the wild

Last month I wrote about a new mobile VoIP service, DeFi. I’ve been using DeFi for a couple of weeks now, initially on my Nokia E65 and now on my E51, and it’s proving to be an excellent mobile VoIP service, both in terms of call quality and functionality. As with any VoIP service the odd call experiences quality issues but that could be down to any one of a number of reasons. In any event the quality is better and more consistent than the flaky cellular coverage I get at home.

The DeFi number you are allocated at signup is a geographical number in the country of your choice – I have a UK 020 London number. This is great because it’s cheaper for people to call than a mobile number. DeFi passes full CLI so people I’m calling see my 020 CLI. Occasionally I have seen ‘international’ appear on an inbound call but I’m told that is an issue with a specific carrier that will be fixed shortly. In addition to my main number I’ve added two additional inbound virtual numbers, including a US number.

One of the most striking features of DeFi is the tariff structure. For $40 (or £23) the Global Access tariff provides unlimited calls from any country to any country, subject to a fair use policy of 3000 minutes a month. Here in the UK this includes landline and mobile numbers, plus numbers to 08 destinations like 0800, 0845 and 0870. This is the first time I’ve seen these destinations included in a fixed price bundle and emphasises the value behind the pricing. Also included in the tariff is WiFi access via an increasing number of commercial hotspots, for both calls and Internet access from your handset. DeFi is in the midst of signing agreements with a number of networks and so far I’ve used my handset out and about in London. The only additional charge is for the virtual numbers which are part of the Global Access Plus tariff and add $10 to the monthly charge.

At the present time there is no support for SMS. This is in the roadmap and both inbound and outbound SMS will be supported on the geographical DeFi number – mobile SMS on a London number is a neat twist! SMS support will also include voicemail alerts, which are currently delivered via email. Voice messages can be received as WAV file attachments, accessed via the DeFi ‘My Account’ portal or by dialling into your mailbox.

Initially I had a few issues with specific UK 08 number sub-ranges not connecting but these were fixed very quickly after raising a fault ticket. Customer support is always very responsive, with answers to queries received with a matter of hours.

Some of the terms used in the voicemail menus need to change for the UK, for example ‘pound key’ need to be replaced with ‘hash key’. These will are due to be fixed in a UK localisation upgrade to the system shortly.

Your DeFi account is managed via the ‘My Account’ portal. This is where you manage aspects of your service like voicemail settings, simultaneous ring, call forwarding, call waiting and check your call history. Simultaneous ring is my favourite feature and I’ve set it to ring my DeFi handset, another mobile and my home office landline so I can answer the call wherever convenient.

Although WiFi doesn’t offer the convenience of 3G/GSM for ubiquitous coverage, the cost benefits of a service like DeFi, both for calling from your home or office and when out and about, particularly when roaming, certainly make it a worthy addition to the mobile toolbox!

Jonathan’s also at Sevendotzero.

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