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March 2008 | Volume 11/ Number 3
Publishers Outlook

Big Power, Small Package

Some of the biggest developments in communications lately have been the smallest. In fact, if you have a smart phone you are able to take advantage of a slew of new software solutions which don’t need a PC.

Mobile VoIP. Perhaps the most powerful of these applications is the simplest as I just came across a wonderful money saver/productivity enabler from a company called MobileMax (http://www.tmcnet.com/1662.1). I ran into the company at their mobbed booth at ITEXPO (http://www.itexpo.com) in Miami a few weeks back. Their software enables a smart phone to ascertain that you’re dialing an international number. When it senses this, your call is transferred to a local U.S. number and then sent to its destination via a VoIP service provider.


The cost savings associated with using a VoIP carrier to make these calls is tremendous as cellular calls to international numbers are always very expensive. Moreover, cellular phone companies block international calls in some cases and for those of us who never bothered to unlock this feature; we can now easily make cellular calls to any other country we like.

Sure there are calling cards that perform the same function but if you don’t like calling cards or you hate the hassle of dialing an endless string of numbers and passwords, this sort of product is for you.

In addition, as Huw Rees, 8x8 VP of Sales & Marketing recently pointed out in a TMCnet podcast (http://www.tmcnet.com/1663.1), the quality of calling card calls can vary greatly.

Incidentally, 8x8, the company behind the successful Packet8 service, has a service called MobileTalk (http://www.tmcnet.com/1664.1) which uses MobileMax technology and routes the calls on the Packet8 network. I tried the service out repeatedly to numbers in France and had flawless service. A single glitch: when I redial a number from my Windows Mobile 6 smart phone, the software doesn’t recognize the number as international so it doesn’t kick in. To compensate, I don’t use the phone’s redial feature for international calls.

People who have told me in the past that there’s nothing new in telecom should wake up and see what Packet8 has done. Sure it’s just basically mobile arbitrage, but when you get your software installed on lots of cellphones, there is a great deal of potential for future services to be sold. And by the time you read this, there should be a Java version available, so just about every phone will benefit from this technology.

Mobile AP. Another handheld productivity application worth mentioning is called WMWifiRouter (http://www.tmcnet.com/1665.1). It transforms your Windows Mobile based smart phone into a wireless access point while utilizing the cellular network for Internet access.

So if you have a few laptops with built-in WiFi at a location but no nearby Internet access, then as long as your phone can access the wireless network, you can run this program and convert the phone into an access point, to which nearby computers can attach themselves. Some service providers offer a similar “tether” function, but this costs money and is limited to a single Bluetooth device. WMWifiRouter is free and allows multiple devices to be connected. I tested it with three simultaneous laptops and at a separate time with a Nokia N800 (http://www.tmcnet.com/1666.1) tablet computer. Each time it worked flawlessly but the phone does get quite hot and, as you can imagine, using your phone as an access point dramatically decreases battery life.

One challenge: if you get a phone call while your phone is in AP mode, the phone stops being an AP and you may have to reboot the phone to get WMWifiRouter working again.

Mobile UC. Even more power comes to your mobile device through Simulscribe (http://www.tmcnet.com/1667.1), the company that puts the power of visual voicemail (http://www.tmcnet.com/1668.1) onto your phone so you can more effectively manage messages on the go. This software downloads your voicemails while simultaneously transcribing the messages. You merely click on a message to read or listen to it.

A free trial (http://www.tmcnet.com/1669.1) of the software available and I suggest you give it a try. I use a transcribed voicemail service today and can tell you first-hand that once you try one of these services you will wonder how you ever lived without it.

Big Merger, Small Problem. Perhaps the biggest tech news as of late is that of Microsoft acquiring Yahoo! I find myself torn over whether this acquisition is good or bad for consumers but in the end it does seem that Google is unstoppable and this merger will create a credible alternative for advertisers.

» Internet Telephony Magazine Table of Contents



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