Monday, August 27, 2007

Funny feature race between Truphone and Wifimobile

There is an interesting competition going on between the mobile VoIP providers Truphone and Wifimobile: Both companies are adding more and more features, probably as reaction to what the other does. I nearly get the feeling that my blog was a pivot for their latest moves, Truphone Out+ and Wifimobile's international calls at local rates over normal GSM.

Last monday I wrote a review about Wifimobile's oneFone service, stating that it had one decisive advantage over Truphone:
Also you don't need to give a new phone number to your pals, like you have to do as a Truphone user, because oneFone uses your normal cell phone number as caller ID when it establishes the call. So the company can directly work on an international scale, other than Truphone which has only UK or US numbers and still has to apply with the regulators for numbers from other countries.

1:0 For Wifimobile. But only four days later Truphone strikes back with a similar feature, Truphone Out+:
1. Truphone Out+ is accessible to new customers from countries where Truphone does not yet provide local mobile numbers. Currently this means countries outside of the UK and USA.

2. For these new customers Truphone Out+ means that a customer's existing phone number is now displayed as their CLI when they make a Truphone call.

3. Carrier pre-select is achieved transparently: when a Truphone call is made the Truphone's servers recognise if the 'ordinary' telephone number being called is linked to a Truphone account. If the destination user is online, a free Truphone-to-Truphone call is setup.

4. Truphone is a mobile operator for the internet age, delivering a UK-based service accessible from around the world. Truphone Out+ is an evolution of the Truphone service. Truphone Out+ will be evolved to a full Truphone services as and when one or more of the following conditions are met:
- number portability becomes possible in a country;
- E.164 compliance is implemented in that country;
- Truphone introduces a local number range in that country.
Truphone is actively working with national regulators and operator partners around the world to bring about one or more of these conditions.

5. A customer can opt to make any call over GSM rather than via Truphone, if they prefer to do so.

6. Truphone Out+ is not yet available for existing Truphone customers.

7. All existing Truphone customers can continue to make free and low-cost mobile VoIP calls over Wi-Fi and the internet. Truphone-to-Truphone calls are always free.

James Tagg, Truphone's chief executive officer, said:

"Truphone Out+ will encourage access to the Truphone service from countries where we have not yet introduced local number ranges. At a stroke we have massively increased the number of people who can access and benefit from the Truphone service."

1:1 for Truphone against Wifimobile. One of Truphone's head honchos told me in a private email that they introduced this feature for me. But that must have been a tongue in cheek comment since I can't even use this new feature. Truphone Out+ is not yet available for existing Truphone customers. The first new Truphone users are already baffled as you can tell from this comment in Truphone's mobile VoIP forum:
Hi, I just registered in Canada, In the SMS from truphone, i got the same number as my provider. I thought i would be assigned an american number like some of the other people on this this a mistake?

Well, it's really difficult to please everybody, but I guess that most non UK and non US users will be quite happy to use their normal mobile number as Truphone number. At least I never gave my Truphone US number to any non US contact, since no German would call me back on that number.

But what about Wifimobile?

Business development manager John O'Prey was a little bit surprised by Truphone's move, since it kind of breaks with Truphone's established business model of relying on incoming call termination revenue to recoup money on their free mobile calls to 40 countries for the rest of the year. His official comment in an email to me was:
“Truphone obviously now support CLI as WiFiMobile have done for some time. I suggest that all users would assume that this service is a natural application. WiFiMobile’s stance is giving the end user simplicity with as much normal handset operation as possible. Our service automatically determines whether a call is free over oneFone or chargeable over GSM. The customer dials as normal. People already have an attached GSM number and do not want to be giving friends and family other contact numbers."

And then he striked out to score the next goal against Truphone: Wifimobile introduces an add on service for UK and USA customers who can now call internationally at local rates over normal GSM.

That's VoIP without VoIP!

Another great idea, born out of competition and giving more choice to the customer. “This addresses the fact that connection to Wi-Fi is not always possible and few people have an unlimited data plan”, says John O'Prey. I guess it's a callback service, because it would be easily to implement in Wifimobile's standalone VoIP client for Nokia mobile phones.

2:1 for Wifimobile.

Let's see what happens next in this interesting match.


  1. personally I do not see making the descision to call via my providor or truphone automatically to be a feature. I want to be the one in control. If truphone can not complete a certain call I want know about it and decide if I want to call anyway.

  2. Good point.

    Control over call routes is everything for us penny pinchers. Generally speaking at Wifimobile you get worldwide landlines for free and the rest has to go over GSM.

    So you get probably a better deal when you call foreign mobiles with Truphone instead over your GSM, like you have to do at Wifimobile.


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