Another look at Truphone

by Jonathan Jensen on 26th August 2009

I’ve been using Truphone on various Nokia S60 handsets for about 2 ½ years now, both for low cost international calls and because it delivered great quality mobile WiFi coverage for me at home when my main mobile service provider didn’t (I have now moved MNO to Vodafone to solve the home coverage issue).

Truphone

Ring Ring!

Truphone call quality has been consistently good in my experience and much less variable than other VoIP services I’ve tried. I’ve used it via my home WiFi and via commercial hotspots in both the UK & elsewhere in Europe. The savings when travelling have been significant when set against roaming charges, both for outbound and inbound calls (no charge to receive roaming calls when in WiFi coverage!).

I recently acquired an iPhone and immediately installed Truphone to take advantage of the service on that device. Truphone has done a great job rolling out service across multiple handset operating systems – Nokia S60, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android and BlackBerry. Truphone on each device delivers a different user experience because of the constraints of each operating system. I like the Nokia S60 implementation because it integrates with the standard handset functionality, runs in the background and offers full outbound and inbound calling. Having a unique Truphone mobile number which forwards to my regular mobile number when I’m out of WiFi coverage is a nice feature. The iPhone implementation offers outbound calling but because of the iPhone’s constraints on background apps it can only receive calls when the Truphone app is open. For this reason Truphone decided not to provide a unique Truphone number for each handset but use the existing mobile number so inbound calls are delivered via your regular mobile service, unless the caller is also on Truphone.

Both the S60 and iPhone versions support Truphone Anywhere which is a neat way to call international numbers when outside WiFi coverage. Your handset makes a call to a local number which is then onward connected to your destination number. The local call is typically ‘free’ because it comes out of bundled minutes and the onward leg is charged as a standard Truphone call. I’ve set up Truphone Anywhere rules on my Nokia E63 to routes calls to 08 numbers (charged by my mobile provider out of bundle) via Truphone so the calls are made at lower rates (free for 0800 numbers).

It’s not yet possible to have one Truphone account across multiple devices so it’s necessary to manage each handset separately which isn’t ideal but I’m expecting to see some changes there before long.

The big enhancement coming to Truphone later in the year is the launch of Truphone Local Anywhere. This will provide a Truphone SIM card with multiple inbound numbers in countries of your choice and competitive calling and SMS rates in all those countries. No more SIM swapping for regular travellers, no more extortionate roaming charges. Truphone has not yet announced tariffs but Truphone Local Anywhere has the potential to be the first competitive global mobile operator. One point I noticed which could be key to success is the ability to port your existing mobile number to Truphone. I’m also hoping that an iNum will be standard with all Truphone Local Anywhere accounts, matching a single international phone number with an international phone service. I’ll return to the subject of iNums in a future post.

Multiple contact numbers brings its own challenges – lots of contact numbers to give out and which do people use, when? However, combine Truphone Local Anywhere with a .tel address and anyone can find the best number to reach you on, wherever you are. Manage your contactability via .tel profiles and the right number is always available.

Jonathan is @sevendotzero on Twitter and is also at Sevendotzero.

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