Smart Phones Are Even Smarter With VoIP

It’s no secret that VoIP services such as Phone.com include the ability to physically place your phone literally anywhere in the world where you can get an Internet connection, no matter what the phone number. And by now most users know (or should know) that it is simplicity itself to go online and quickly set up forwarding from your Phone.com number to any landline or cell phone in the world (something one can of course do with a “standard” phone, but usually only if you are actually at the phone itself). Of course if that forwarding goes overseas there are long distance charges to consider, even with a VoIP line.

There is, though, an answer – unfortunately right now still limited to only the iPhone. Subscribers to Virtual Office can download an app and quickly turn an iPhone into a VoIP extension on their phone.com number. And if that iPhone can access WiFi – instant calls to and from anywhere in the world, at no additional cost. Alternately, the calls can go over 3G (with 4G obviously coming down the pike), although then the data does count toward plan limits-but still exceptionally cheaper than the outrageous international roaming rates globe hopping cellular users face.

For traveling businessmen the attraction is obvious, especially in locales where WiFi is available cheaply or possibly even free.

The ability is also another reason for some home users to consider switching from Home Phone Plus to Virtual Office, since the mobile VoIP client works as an extension, and thus can’t be used with Home Phone Plus service. I’m among that group of “some” users because I have children who live overseas. And one of them was injured in an accident, and needs to spend a month in the hospital, where reaching her would not be easy. But the hospital has Wi-Fi for the patients, and she has an iPhone. Installing the client and setting it up was a cinch, once I got a tad of help from customer support finding the right settings (the link to the settings was staring me in the face, all that needs polishing is the documentation).

An iPhone client was first out the gate for the obvious reason that Apple stole a march on the market. But my family is hardly unified in its selection. The wife and I use Windows 7 Phone handsets, and the estimates by industry analyst IDC is that Windows Phone is going to become number two in the market (Android will probably be number one, Apple falling to number three, they prognosticate). I also have a couple of daughters who are Blackberry-centric. So I’m hoping it is only a matter of time (a short time, please) before Mobile VoIP clients roll out for the other major smartphone operating systems (yes, there are clients for Blackberry and Android – but they use cellular voice, not VoIP over WiFi).

Stuart Zipper is the past Senior Editor of TelecomWeb news break and a contributing editor to Communications Technology.