As with VoIP, text over IP is sent via data packets across the Internet and therefore avoids the standard charges of traditional network operators. In trials, the service has proven ideal for use with mobile-like handheld wi-fi devices – such as the UT Starcom 3000 - which can send and receive calls or texts whenever in range of a hotspot. When out of range, users can choose to divert their number. It is envisaged that the service will also be compatible with the new generation of VoIP-enabled smart mobile phones such as the nokia e-series
Dr Adam Beaumont, managing director of aql, comments: "Wherever there is an accessible wi-fi hotspot, we are now able to deliver virtually the same functionality as mobile GSM - voice and messaging sent to almost anyone, anywhere in the world – for a fraction of the cost. We have systems in place to interoperate with other VoIP networks so that users of other providers can send messages into and receive messages from the aql network. We’re keen to hear from and work with any other VoIP carriers.”
The cost for the service (excluding broadband fees) including a UK geographic number is just £2 per month and allows users to send unlimited messages and VoIP calls between compatible VoIP handsets for free. SMS sent to receiving GSM phones will be charged from between 5-12 pence per message (dependent on the package selected). Calls to conventional landlines are charged at highly competitive rates – eg calls to the USA are charged at just over 1p per minute. Handsets such as the UT Starcom 3000 are available for £149 + vat as a starter package from the aql site including a free bundle of conventional SMS text message credits and voice minutes, allowing both free messaging and conventional messaging.
Adam continued: “Internet based messaging has huge savings potential for businesses which are using GSM for bulk messaging or content delivery services. We have already developed free text-in messaging services, such as news bulletins, which have until now always been charged at a premium to conventional mobile users.
“It is an ideal solution for parents of “text-crazy” teenagers with huge mobile phone bills, and as our service uses geographic landline numbers (unlike some wi-fi VoIP services which use mobile 07 numbers) customers can choose a number with a local dialing code which allows friends who live locally to call from a fixed-line at local rates” he added.
Although able to offer the service direct to end-users, aql’s main route to market is through its expanding network of resellers who are able to browse, select services and allocate customer numbers using an automated online interface. aql also has over 3 million geographic phone numbers which it can assign to handsets and phones in real-time.
The Company is keen to talk to potential resellers and those who wish to trial the wholesale service