By Eric Griffith
February 18, 2005
Three disparate companies coming together to make one service for public VoWi-Fi communications: that’s what’s happening in a new trial between hotspot aggregator Boingo Wireless, VoIP service provider Ecuity Advanced Communications, and software-based phone maker Telesym.
The unnamed service is almost ready for testing. Ecuity is in the process of selecting people to try it. Users will make calls on the Ecuity Smart Call mobile VoIP service from any of the 13,000 hotspots that are part of the Boingo virtual network. To make calls, the user will download and run SymPhone software from Telesym, which comes in versions for Windows laptops or Pocket PC-based PDAs.
Initially selected users will get a thirty-day free trial that will include full access to the hotspots and 1,000 minutes of calling (a combined $42 value) —they’ll even be sent a free Plantronics headset. Applicants have until March 31st to register online. No word on what date the trial actually starts. The companies ask only that users agree to be surveyed for information after using the service.
Ecuity’s Web site says its V-Tone Smart Call service lets a user pick out their own phone number so they can make calls to any number on the plain old telephone system (POTS) using the SymPhone software. Prices range from $15 for 500 minutes of calls (plus $.039 per minute for long distance) to $20 for 1000 minutes (plus $.039 per minute for long distance) or $30 for completely unlimited calls. Each tier also supports features like call waiting, call hold, three-way calls, inbound caller ID, listening to voicemails that are attached to e-mail messages, integration with Microsoft Outlook, and more.
Ecuity also has deals in place with various Seattle and Redmond, Wash., locations that support the Smart Call service, including Quality Food Centers, Northwest Brewhouse & Grill and Cucina Cucina Italian Café in Redmond, and River Rock Grill & Alehouse in Renton.
In a statement, Boingo’s director of marketing Scott Miller said, “Applications such as VoWi-Fi are the future of Wi-Fi hotspots because they extend wireless neworking’s ability to keep people connected and productive wherever they are.” Boingo’s 13,000 hotspots are run by 85 operators in 3,000 cities spread across 38 countries.