September 21, 2006

fring - free mobile voip

ok... this is gonna be another slightly arcane post so if you're not already familiar with the concept of ip- or internet-based telephony and services such as skype or googletalk you may not want to bother reading any further.

there's been a lot of chatter over the last year about voip over mobile and there are multiple solutions being developed, whether for enterprise or consumer. skype, googletalk and/or other voip solutions for mobile are popularly expected (or already emerging in some cases), even if the mobile networks (at least in the u.s.) may not be quite up to the challenge. but it's coming, and it'll be disruptive, 'cause it basically means offloading a bunch of your mobile voice minutes into your all-you-can-eat data plan bucket.

enter fring (and before i forget: many thanks to milan for pointing me at this)... sweet little beta app that delivers free mobile voip to nokia series 60 based devices, allowing for use via your skype, googletalk, fring or simultaneous ids. registration and download was a breeze, as was installation and setup. first thing i did was dial the fring test number and, sure enough, i could easily hear the automated recording as well as the playback of my own recorded message. seemingly little to no latency - in other words, it felt like a phone call. and that was over gprs - not even a real 3G network. cool.

second thing i did was call a friend and ask him to register, download and install fring on his device so we could try the fring-to-fring experience. and, what-do-ya-know, it worked. and rather well. a bit of static and a minor (very) echo, but, again, only very slight latency. caller id worked once the other party was added to the fring client as a contact. speaker-phone and volume controls on the device did not work, but a bluetooth headset functioned fine. the default ringback and ringtone are a bit bizarre - but who cares? incoming mobile call while voip call was in progress went straight to voicemail - which is fine enough. notably, our voip connection did eventually crap out - but only after 15 minutes and was quickly re-established. and, remember, this was over gprs, not 3g...

very, very cool... but one downside: i had to switch back to a nokia series 60 v2.x device to use fring - they're not yet supporting s60 third edition (see earlier post).

stay tuned...

happy 16th brennan