Vonage, T-Mobile announce offerings

* Include mobile calling application for smartphone and business solution that integrates BlackBerry handsets with PBXs

It's been an interesting 10 days or so for those of us who follow the mobile VoIP market with news from Vonage, T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T-- along with a warning from the FCC chairman about a looming scarcity of spectrum needed for future wireless applications. Today, we'll cover news from Vonage and T-Mobile.

It's been an interesting 10 days or so for those of us who follow the mobile VoIP market with news from Vonage, T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T-- along with a warning from the FCC chairman about a looming scarcity of spectrum needed for future wireless applications. Today, we'll cover news from Vonage and T-Mobile.\

Vonage has introduced launched Vonage Mobile, its first mobile calling application for smartphones. Vonage Mobile is a free downloadable application that provides seamless, low-cost international calling while on Wi-Fi or cellular networks. Once downloaded, the service saves customers more than 50% on calls to dozens of countries versus the international calling rates charged by wireless carriers while providing far more convenience than prepaid calling cards.

By offering smartphone users mobile access to the Vonage international long distance network over a cellular or Wi-Fi connection, the company can expand its customer base while maintaining low acquisition costs. The service is paid for by a credit or debit card, so billing and device costs to Vonage are minimal. The move also positions Vonage as a software-based service provider, expanding its business model that relies on hardware-based VoIP gateways, previously confined to residential wireline use.

T-Mobile has launched WiFi Calling with MobileOffice, a business solution that integrates select dual-mode BlackBerry handsets with leading PBXs via Research in Motion's Mobile Voice System (MVS) for cellular and voice over Wi-Fi (VoWiFi) calling. Companies with more than 99 T-Mobile lines get free, unlimited Wi-Fi calling; companies with less than 99 lines pay $9.99 per line, per month. The solution provides cost savings for international roaming and long-distance; employees don't use wireless minutes when they call from a campus Wi-Fi network or any other open Wi-Fi access point.

T-Mobile's approach to the business market follows a similar strategy to offer VoWiFi in the consumer market, although it offers a greater level of support to enterprise customers: T-Mobile also will install and set up MVS connect and integrate it with a BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) for Microsoft Exchange, and provide user support.

Commenting on the T-Mobile plan, Kathryn (Kitty) Weldon, principal analyst for enterprise mobility at Current Analysis, said: "While enterprise-managed FMC solutions abound that feature seamless call handoff to and from cellular and Wi-Fi, other U.S. carriers have not yet joined the VoWiFi bandwagon to launch voice services that leverage dual mode devices. The launch of T-Mobile's WiFi Calling with MobileOffice may force other Tier 1 competitors to act more rapidly than they had planned in supporting dual-mode."

Next time, we'll look at the announcements from AT&T and Verizon, and the pronouncements from Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski as we set the stage for a return to our discussions on net neutrality.

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