VoIP is both overpopulated and underdeveloped. It's jammed packed with companies offering services that are useful if much of a muchness and yet held back by the futile attempts of most mobile networks to block them off for fear of falling revenues. So could this solve both these problems...
Opening its doors to the UK in February is Vopium, yet another Voice over IP provider but one whose service comes with a valuable difference, something I'm struggling to describe as anything other than 'Smart VoIP'.
In essence what this means is when you install the Vopium client your mobile phone - over 500 models are supported including the iPhone via App Store - unlike other offerings it will automatically detect the least expensive way to make a call taking into account your location and whether the other user has Vopium or not. (Calling rates are also listed on its site)
Most importantly, the whole process is transparent to the user. They simply dial a number and the call method is chosen. This rather clever feat is achieved because the Vopium client integrates directly into a mobile phone address book so it can compile phone numbers, area codes and the like. It will also detect whether you are on WiFi which is particularly handy for travellers as over this all Vopium to Vopium calls are free regardless of location.
A further benefit of the software is 'Vopium Sync', a free additional service which will back up your handset contacts and calendar information online and automatically synchronise any changes. Lose your phone and this has your back.
Much like a good sports referee, the success of VoIP as a whole will lie in its invisibility to the end user - they want the benefits but without consciously having to do anything - so Vopium certainly looks to be on the right track. Competition in this sector remains fierce, but as all new Vopium customers are currently being given 30 minutes of free calls as part of a risk free trial there seems little reason not to try it out...