Taking on Skype

By Reuters - Print this article Print

The cost of talking on the go is coming down, thanks to an increasing number of options for using Internet calling services on mobile phones as an alternative to traditional cellular service plans.


One advantage that these new companies have in competing with established VoIP services such as eBay's Skype and Vonage is that old-style Internet calling required users to be sitting in front of a computer or hooked up to a laptop to make calls.

Mobile handsets with Wi-Fi chips free them from their PCs.

Ivan Domaniewicz, a commercial airline pilot with homes in Miami and Barcelona, recently switched to DeFi Mobile from eBay's Skype VoIP service. His $40-per-month DeFi plan gives him unlimited Internet calls, voice mail and phone numbers in Argentina and Spain that ring through to his Nokia handset.

"It's really helped me keep in touch with my family and friends in Argentina and Spain," said Domaniewicz, who shuttles between the United States, Japan, Europe and the South Pacific.

"What's nice is that I don't have to take my computer out and start Skype-ing to talk to them. I just turn on my phone," he said.

Jeb Brilliant, an event planner from Long Beach, California, cut his monthly AT&T plan down to 700 minutes from a more expensive unlimited access plan after he got comfortable using mobile VoIP.

He uses Truphone, which charges 6 cents per minute to call landlines in most countries and 30 cents a minute to call mobile numbers. It also sells bundles of minutes that are discounted over its a la carte rates.

Brilliant has tried other mobile VoIP services as well and says that the technology can sometimes prove more reliable than cell phone service. When a family friend recently went into labor, he found himself making phone calls via the hospital's WiFi network.

"You can get it (VoIP) in places where there is no cell phone reception," he said.

(Editing by Brian Moss)

This article was originally published on 2008-10-09
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