Potatoes and Tomatoes: The Varieties of Mobile VoIP

September 3, 2008 by Tom Costelloe

Every week a new company offering Mobile VoIP service seems to launch. However, most of these companies are not what I consider true Mobile VoIP. A majority of these actually offer glorified calling card or call forwarding services. While I favor inexpensive calling options, the customer should be wary of the fine print. Is it truly Mobile VoIP? No, but that isn’t going to stop people from calling it so.

A majority of these companies require that the user dial a number, then enter a code number, and finally dial the intended destination number. In theory, the end-user saves money. There is, however, a catch. If the call is placed outside of the cellular provider’s area, roaming and other charges apply. These fees may add up to more than the savings from the VoIP service. At this rate, a caller would do just as well to purchase calling cards and dial away.

A true Mobile VoIP service allows calls to be made in Birmingham or Barcelona to Portland or Portlaoise for the same basic rate. Mobile VoIP allows calls to be made, not via a cell phone or landline, but over a WiFi network. With many unlocked phones, customers are not even provided with a SIM card. Simply connect to a signal, launch the provider’s software, and dial away. There are no worries about roaming fees or night and weekend hours. The biggest concern is to remember not to swear while your grandmother is on the line.


  • Though I totally agree that these examples are not mobile VoIP, I don’t think that WiFi only solutions are mobile VoIP either.
    As more phones have UMTS/EVDO data connection than WiFi, and there’s more coverage for the cellular data networks (at least in Europe), then using the cellular data network for mobile VoIP seems more appropriate for this terminology.

  • Thanks for the explanation, I never thought if VoIP can be used to contact the mobile device.

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