Mobile VoIP is one of those brilliant ideas that everyone loves in principle and steers clear of in reality, but what if it was about to become a lot easier...
To this end Truphone's service (which we reviewed back in March) has taken an important step forward this week securing a deal with systems integration and connectivity specialist Quiconnect to enable automatic log-ons at commercial and public WiFi hotspots. There's no need for passwords, accounts or subscriptions - all of which can be tricky to access from a mobile device.
Furthermore, the implementation itself is a clever one. Quiconnect has deals in place with numerous Hotspot providers (including BT, Sprint Nextel, SFR, VSNL, Telecom Italia and Telefonica to name but a few) and Truphone has embedded Quiconnect's Connector application into its software. The result is whenever a Truphone user passes a WiFi hotspot (provided they have a WiFi capable device) they are automatically connected so that calls are charged over the far cheaper wireless rates. While this is of benefit in everyday use, it will be a real boon when abroad.
Even better is the cost system. To keep a cap on spending the Truphone/Quiconnect deal is not based on time spent at each hotspot or even a flat connection fee but instead the amount of data used. Since mobile VoIP is specifically designed to use microscopic amounts even international calls will cost just a few pence, not a few pounds. In addition, once connected a user isn't charged at all until they make or receive a call.
Initial plans for the service are to expand support across Europe and the US over the next 12 months with a global roll-out to follow.
Interestingly, the Truphone deal isn't an exclusive one so I'd expect to see similar agreements from rivals sooner rather than later. For now though, this is a major market differentiator and one which could finally turn the masses onto the benefits of mobile VoIP...