Monday, January 7, 2008

Israeli mobile VoIP software miracle automatically connects the cheapest way

Last year I was nagging that "Packet8 MobileTalk could be done much better", and I was right. I could learn that now when the Israeli company Mobilemax installed for me on a cellphone the underlying software which powers Packet8's MobileTalk. It is a real mobile VoIP wonder weapon which I covered in an article for Areamobile. Companies like Truphone, Gizmo5, Wifimobile and Tpad should make its features a part of their mobile services to make them work also outside of the spare Wifi areas.

Internet telephony could be a killer application for mobile phones. But it has it quirks, shows a series of articles I wrote. In most cases you need at least a cell phone which can open mobile websites. It let's you do a mobile callback with VoIP providers like Jajah or Voxalot. After entering the phone numbers of the caller and the callee on a mobile website, a server rings up both and connects them over the internet. Of course this also costs double, but for international calls it's still cheaper than the own cell phone provider's prices. Only Wifi cell phone calls are less expensive. They only cost a few cents per minutes and often they are free. But Wifi isn't always available.

Mobilemax thus developed a software which automatically sends mobile phone calls the less expensive way over the internet whenever that's cheaper than normal calls. No need to open mobile websites on the phone or to trigger callbacks by SMS or instant messaging. The software simply sits unobtrusively in the background and automatically determines the way in which the call is connected. The user only needs to enter the number.

Establishing a call with VoIP software from Mobilemax

The program works on about 500 phones with Palm, BlackBerry, Symbian or Windows Mobile operating systems and last month it has been deployed for the first time by the US VoIP provider Packet8. Once a number has a foreign area code, the software starts to act and connects via a landline number to the server by Packet8. The server connects the telephone conversation with the other party over the VoIP network. Calls from the United States to Asia or Europe cost only a 2 to 5 US cents per minute more than the price of a local call. The American mobile operators normally charge up to three dollar minute. German companies like Running Mobile or Cellity offer similar solutions.

But the Israeli software has much more functions which the competitors lack and also Packet8 doesn't use. The program could also automatically decide to connect a phone call as a callback or over Wifi. Even VoIP calls over 3G will soon be possible, although all German mobile network operators seem to block them now I realized in some self-experiments. Mobilemax' software is a real miracle weapon for mobile VoIP and the handling is particularly pleasant, because no extra buttons have to be pressed. The software even senses in which country the user is and automatically chooses a local number for callthrough or callback. What a pity that consumers cannot have it. Mobilemax distributes the software only to companies. "We don't see ourselves providing the underlying service of the application and compete with our customers", said Mobilemax' Director of Business Development, Perry Nalevka, to me in an interview. The Packet8 customers pay $10 per month only to use it. In addition they get the VoIP telephone minutes billed.

Configuration also allows other VoIP flavours

Other companies want to follow the same business model, Nalevka said, which started as a one-touch-dialing solution for calling card users and roamers who had to use tens of access numbers, PINs and dial flows to make a call without being ripped off by the mobile operators. Six different service providers worldwide and several IPBX and enterprise mobility providers are now testing the software. So far several tens of thousands of licenses purchased.

Other companies who use it:

Today it supports the following configurations:
  • Callthrough with PIN or PINless (CLI based).
  • Roaming location based callthrough with multiple access numbers automatically selects the relevant access number according to the user's location.
  • Seamless callback triggered by: DID, USSD, SMS, IP. The application triggers the callback, answers the incoming call and if needed sends the destination number.
  • Dial around replacing prefixes in the dialed number (1010).

Further developments:
  • Support additional phone models as they are released.
  • Add new routes to seamlessly divert calls to: VoWIFI, Vo3G (to SIP or termination).
  • Adding in-call Mobility features.

You can find more information about the software in Rich Tehrani's interview with Perry Nalevka: "MobileMax: Bullish on Fixed Mobile Convergence" (December 31, 2007).


  1. what is really too bad is that his is only offered to companies. it would really be interesting to have a service neutral version of this where we could choose the operators that would terminate our calls(or even set it up to work with sipbroker or tpad)

    hopefully they will release an 'open' version for sale direct to consumers. or perhaps they can sell the software to a handset manufacture that would sell handset preloaded with an open version - we just drop in the sim card; this would be preferable to selling to carriers(or discount long distance sellers) who would have an interest in keeping it as closed as possible.

  2. Good points addressed, anonymous, offering an open version. MobileMax will at exhbiting at booth 833 at ITEXPO East in Miami Jan. 23-25, 2008, btw. I'm looking forward to meeting them in person and trying out the service. Markus gives such a glowing review of MobileMax when he's more often known for his hard critiques. That is a compliment in itself.


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