Mobile VoIP is an efficient, low-cost way to communicate using your cell phone and the services provided by your home or business VoIP provider.
How Does Mobile VoIP Work?
Mobile VoIP works with a cell phone’s 3G, 4G, GSM, or another Internet service to send voice calls as digital signals over the Internet using voice over IP technology. Mobile VoIP phones can also take advantage of WiFi hotspots to eliminate the calling costs of a cellular voice or data plan.
By using VoIP, mobile VoIP phone users — especially smartphone users — can benefit from lower costs when calling, texting, or other common smartphone activities. Digital data transmission using VoIP is also typically faster, as the data is spread out over multiple packets, each taking the fastest route to its intended destination.
Using a mobile VoIP phone with WiFi hotspot access can also reduce a mobile VoIP phone user’s costs by sidestepping the carrier’s expensive 3G service altogether. For instance, with a cellular carrier’s monthly data plan, callers can easily exceed bandwidth maximums, incurring overage charges. Tapping into WiFi hotspots with mobile VoIP software reduces that risk and extends the lifespan of the monthly data allotment.
A mobile VoIP phone service can eliminate the need for a basic voice plan, as well as optional (and costly) text add-ons. With a mobile VoIP phone, cell phone users can enjoy more flexibility in calling times than a cellular voice plan provides, with fewer restrictions. VoIP mobile phone service means that a mobile VoIP user can make unlimited inexpensive or free calls using voice over IP technology at any time.
Mobile VoIP users don’t need to worry about the limitations associated with cell phone calling plans, such as:
- Anytime minutes
- Night or weekend minutes
- Rollover minutes
- Roaming charges
- Incoming call charges
- Messaging limits
- Mobile-to-mobile calling (check with your mobile VoIP provider, some do treat in-network calls differently)
- Mobile VoIP phone users can also take advantage of the additional, integrated features a mobile VoIP app supports. This includes high-bandwidth activities such as group chat and video chat. Accessing these functions without mobile VoIP software (by fring or Talkonaut, for instance), typically requires a separate app, and using it could impact or exceed monthly text and bandwidth maximums.
Accessing Mobile VoIP
Cell phone users can use mobile VoIP service on their phone with the addition of mobile VoIP software. These are apps offered by VoIP phone service providers customers may already be using at home or at work, such as Vonage or 3CX, or standalone mobile VoIP apps such as Skype, Vyke, or Truphone.
Some services, such as Truphone, also offer an entire mobile VoIP network by combining a SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card and an app together. (The SIM card contains all the information needed to identify network subscribers.) One functions where the other doesn’t, depending on the circumstance, to offer a comprehensive mobile VoIP network service.
To use this kind of mobile VoIP function, along with other similar services, you need an unlocked handset. Most mobile VoIP apps, however, piggyback onto your existing data plan and do not require unlocking.
Benefits of Mobile VoIP
Mobile VoIP phone users can benefit from voice over IP services to lower their monthly phone bills. Some cell phone users will take advantage of mobile VoIP phone service to eliminate their voice plans. Using mobile VoIP can result in a simple, data-plan-only relationship with your cell phone carrier. Choosing a data-only plan can result in significant savings.
Benefits for Businesses
Mobile VoIP phones are increasingly popular not only with individuals but also with businesses looking to streamline their operations and lower their overhead. Businesses with personnel on the road with company-issued cell phones find mobile VoIP service to be a cost-effective solution.
Mobile VoIP phones can be used by individuals or by businesses to improve the quality, efficiency, and cost of their overall communications. Businesses and individuals save money on international calls when using mobile VoIP phones. Country-to-country calls are billed at inexpensive local area rates, and the business traveler or tourist isn’t slammed with roaming charges.
Using a mobile VoIP app or mobile VoIP service can also add greater functionality to your cell phone. Mobile VoIP apps can also add new and useful features such as group chat, video chat, or 4-way calling. These features can be useful tools in business communications. VoIP smartphone apps, such as those included with 3CX, allow employees to answer calls to their office extension from there mobile phone wherever they are. This is a great advantage for traveling or remote employees.
The number of apps that you can use to transform your mobile phone into a VoIP mobile phone is astronomical, and growing every day. There are apps (some used in conjunction with a SIM card) for every major smartphone OS — even Blackberry.
Other mobile VoIP apps work with more traditional “dumbphones,” although they may not offer the more robust features available with smartphone mobile VoIP apps (such as video chat).
Many VoIP apps are available for free download online, such as from the Android Market or the software producer’s website, or from the iTunes store. Others are available for a small, one-time fee.
These are just some of the mobile VoIP apps that work with the two major smartphones.
Mobile VoIP Apps for iPhone and Android:
- Skylar Brotecs
- Skype (also Symbian)
- Mobile VoIP Dialer
- fring (also Symbian)
- 3CX (also Windows & Mac)
- BBee (iPhone and Android)
- mobileVOIP (also Blackberry, Symbian, and Windows)
- Vyke (also Symbian, Blackberry)
- netTALK (also Blackberry, Symbian, and Windows)
- Optima Dialer
- Optima Free Dialer
- A2Billing SIP Dialer
- Skuku (also Blackberry, Symbian, and Windows)
- Talkonaut (also Blackberry, Symbian, and Windows)
- Pindo (iOS, Android)
- Raketu (also Blackberry and Windows)
- Voxofon (also Blackberry and Windows)
- MO-Call (also Blackberry and Windows)
- Nimbuzz (also Blackberry and Windows)
- Vippie Mobile (also Blackberry and Windows)
- Tango (also Windows)
- Sipmobile – Secure communications (TLS,SRTP), Support for Opus, SILK, VP8 codecs, Push notifications for longer battery life, click here Picture sharing.
- Android-only Mobile VoIP Apps
- Best Mobile Dialer for Android
- iTel Mobile Dialer
Windows Mobile VoIP Apps
- VoipCall v0.1
- iTel Mobile Dialer
- WNM Live (also iPhone)
Remember to review the terms of the mobile VoIP provider’s ‘free calling’ feature. Some mobile VoIP services, including Skype and Viber, support free in-network US and international long distance only; regular cell phone rates apply for out-of-network calls. Also, be aware that some mobile VoIP softphone makers, such as Talkatone, explicitly state that their service is not intended for time-sensitive, critical phone calls to emergency services.
Mobile VoIP SDKs
- Sinch – SDKs for iOS, Android, JaaScript, and backend APIs to add Mobile VoIP into apps
- Mobile VoIP Extensions
- Many home and business VoIP service providers, such as Vonage or Nextiva, also offer service extensions to accommodate their customers’ cell phones. In most cases, this extra feature is free and offers the same plan details. (Unlimited calling at home translates to unlimited calling on your VoIP mobile phone.)
Some of the VoIP service providers offering mobile VoIP extensions (used solely in conjunction with their regular residential- or business-based subscription service) are:
- Phone Power
- Fathom Voice
For many VoIP service customers, using their home- or business-based VoIP service on their mobile phone just means downloading a mobile VoIP softphone app. With a mobile VoIP phone integrated with their home- or business-based VoIP calling plan, mobile VoIP users can enjoy the same low rates wherever they go.
ConXhub, Vonage, Vocalocity, ITP and 3CX offer apps for Android and iPhone. RingCentral offers apps for the iPhone, Android, and Blackberry. Phone Power and ViaTalk currently have an iPhone app only. Business-focused 8×8 produces an app that works with many major smartphone makes and models, including Blackberry and Treo.
Some voice over IP service providers, such as Vonage, have made things even simpler: You can register an office or mobile phone with the VoIP provider. The added phone does not even have to be a phone with an Internet connection. To make calls at the lower VoIP calling rate using that phone, you simply dial an access number first.
Mobile VoIP Phones
As mobile VoIP usage increases and more people make the switch to VoIP technology and lower monthly phone bills, innovative new services continue to arrive on the scene. One of the most recent developments is something called VoWiFi, or VoIP WiFi — VoIP using WiFi hotspots only.
VoWiFi, wireless VoIP, has inspired some cell phone makers (including Google, which produces the Android) to create hybrid handsets or WiFi cell phones: Truly mobile VoIP phones support cellular networks and VoIP simultaneously.
Mobile VoIP phones designed to operate on a mixed or blended network do not need softphones installed. The functionality is built-in, so no VoIP mobile app is required.
The default network protocol when using a dedicated mobile VoIP phone will be VoIP using WiFi. However, whenever WiFi coverage is lacking or weak, the VoIP mobile phone will switch over to a cellular signal.
The objective of the dual-mode mobile VoIP phone is to keep the caller from noticing the signal switch — no dropped calls or other interruptions. With sporadic WiFi hotspot access, especially when the caller is moving, a smooth transition between signal types (and sustained call coverage) is critical.
Cell phone makers such as Nokia, Motorola and Google have already been producing dual-mode VoIP mobile phones. New carriers such as Republic Wireless, with its LG mobile VoIP phone, are now offering low-cost, unlimited monthly data plans: Republic Wireless offers a Hybrid Calling plan with a $199 setup fee for an LG Optimus phone and one month of free calling, and $19/month unlimited use after that.
With a VoIP mobile phone, unlimited use means every function is included: Calling, texting, emailing, browsing (including high-bandwidth media), and chatting.