Mobile VoIP without the Wi-Fi

Consumers who aren’t rushing out to purchase a WiFi-capable mobile phone still have options for low-cost long distance rates, thanks to vendors utilizing VoIP on the back end.

i2Telecom is launching a new mobile application next month, MyGlobalTalk, that utilizes VoIP without requiring users to have WiFi capability on their phones. “The beauty is you don’t need to be on the PC, you don’t need to have a broadband connection and you can save money calling from you cellular phone,” said i2Telecom founder/chairman/CEO Paul Arena.

Users sign up for the service online, receive a text message with a link, download the application and install it on their phones. MyGlobalTalk provides a local access number, which users call over a cellular network (local calling rates from the cellular service provider apply), followed by the long distance number. MyGlobalTalk transmits the call through voice over IP.

No contract in required; users prepay for credits online at the company’s Website.

“Using a calling card, a lot of the times you’re doing the same thing,” says Jayanth Angl, a research analyst at Info-Tech Research Group. “You’re calling an access number and they’re doing the routing over IP on the back end, transferring it to you.” The difference with MyGlobalTalk, Angl pointed out, is having a client that’s downloaded to your phone.

MyGlobalTalk is currently in beta and will initially provide U.S. local calling numbers. The company plans to expand into Canada and Europe later in the year.

Other vendors are also leveraging VoIP to minimize costs for long distance calls on GSM or CDMA networks. “I think a lot of the fundamentals are the same,” said Angl. “I don’t know if it’s easy to say that one is better than the other at this point…our sense is that we’re still in the very early stages.”

Montreal-based Mobivox provides local access numbers in 16 area codes across Canada. Like MyGlobalTalk, users dial a local Mobivox number and the call travels over a VoIP network at low-cost (prepaid) rates. However, calls between Mobivox members and Skype users are free and there is no software to install.

Unlike MyGlobalTalk and Mobivox, JAJAH Direct provides a unique local number for each long distance contact. Alternatively, users can make calls on your mobile phone through the Web. Users visit JAJAH’s site, enter a username and password and then select a contact from their JAJAH address book. Neither service requires a contract or software installation.

While services from i2Telecom, Mobivox and JAJAH are good options for consumers, they don’t address the needs of enterprise users. “[Enterprises] aren’t really looking at these types of services,” said Angl. “There are solutions better geared to them.”

One example of an enterprise-class solution is the femtocell, said Angl. “A femtocell allows you to set up a cellular base station on your premise, but instead route those calls over your business broadband.”