Voice over IP (VoIP) is really catching on at home and in the office and there are plenty of providers you can choose from to deliver the service. But VoIP has yet to really make its mark with mobile phones.
Until very recently it has had no chance at all because mobiles have lacked built in Wi-Fi. But that is changing, and higher end handsets are beginning to include this (finally). We are talking mostly Windows Mobile and Symbian based handsets here, and in the latter camp Nokia in particular is pushing Wi-Fi in its E series of smartphones designed primarily for professional users, and its N series for high end consumers.
So, with one key technical barrier beginning to shift itself out of the way, what else remains? Well, to use Voice over IP you need access to a wireless hotspot, or even your own wireless network at home or at work. To use a wireless hotspot youâ€™re going to need to access it via a browser, so you can see why this is limited to the more feature rich, smartphones.
Some of these mobile hotspots are free, but the majority you need to pay to use. It is the free ones that capture the imagination, of course. If you have a Wi-Fi handset, some VoIP software on board, and a free mobile hotspot to hand, then phone calls are free right?
Well, not necessarily. I took a look at two VoIP applications for mobile phones, Truphone and Fring, to see what they offer, how easy they are to use and what the costs are.
I used Nokiaâ€™s new E65 for my tests of both services. Check back for a full review of the E65 soon too.