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Two firms launch VoIP over Wi-Fi plans: Mobiboo partners with The Cloud to provide mobile calling over 1,000 already-installed UK locations; aql (that’s all lowercase) expands from SMS into bring-your-own Wi-Fi calling. The Cloud is also building city center Wi-Fi hotzones across about 10 cities in the UK, with the City of London—that city’s business district—already launched. (The Cloud includes 7,000 hotspots in its roaming network, but apparently just 1,092 are enabled for Mobiboo at this writing.)
The two Wi-Fi mobile operators will offer UTStarcom’s new F3000 phone, what appears to be a much more cellphone-like Wi-Fi phone. The earlier F1000 had a ridiculous interface with smiley faces and poor responsiveness. It felt like a toy rather than a serious phone meant for mobile professionals and early adopter consumers.
Mobiboo costs $339 with the F3000 and aql $282; this article says the F3000 retails for about $200 separately. Both operators include setup costs and $19 of calling time with those bundles. Calling rates are in line with other plans, which typically means about two U.S. cents per minute for calls from VoIP to landline phones in most developed countries, and both landline and cell in most of North America. VoIP-only calls are free.
Posted by Glennf at September 5, 2006 3:40 PM
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The Cloud hotspots seem to be up and down like YoYo's. I have been using the Cloud with my laptop for months and have the same problem - maybe they're just not up to the job? I don't have a Mobiboo phone yet, but will probaly get one ... If the Cloud is stable!
[Editor's note: You bring up an important point. I don't know of any UK, US, or international service that provides monitoring and 'weather reports' for hotspot availability and consistency, something critical for VoIP usage.--gf]
Posted by: James Larsson at September 11, 2006 12:06 PM
You say that "Mobiboo costs $339 with the F3000 and aql $282; this article says the F3000 retails for about $200 separately" ... well I paid £179 in the UK for it which included £10 credit and shipping, so that's $334 to you guys, now I can buy the phone in the US for $198 from voipsupply.com, plus shipping of $37 to the UK, insurance of $19 and then import VAT (17.5%) on the $198 + $37 shipping + insurance ($254 in total), which is $84, so add it all up and ya get $338, plus hassle and 10-14 days shipping!
I can order it online in just a few minutes and it will be here in 2-3 working days for £179 ($334) with £10 credit on, delivered and insured ... so which option is best?
[Editor's note: Thanks for that run down. I wasn't suggesting that $200 was "cheaper."--gf]
Posted by: Mal J. Friar at September 11, 2006 8:35 PM