Virgin app gives landline customers free mobile calls
By Stewart Mitchell
Posted on 5 Nov 2012 at 12:13
Virgin Media has announced plans to allow phone customers to use their landline call allowance when away from home.
The SmartCall smartphone app would mean anyone with a Wi-Fi connection, either in the UK or overseas, could use the call allowances included with a landline contract with the company.
Virgin said it has recently completed trials of the service which was available to a limited number of consumers from today, with widespread availability from early next year.
The app powering the service already works on iPhone and most Android handsets, the company told PC Pro, with support for Windows Phone and remaining Android handsets scheduled for early next year.
The service is only available to end users with a landline from the company, which costs £13.90 per month.
SmartCall will stretch the home telephone cord all the way to wherever you might be
Basic plan customers, who pay no extra for call packages, would only be able to use the service at the weekend, while customers that stump up £4.60 would also get evening calls.
Access to the service is based on UK time, so customers wanting to use their allocation from overseas would have to do so at the right time of day, which might be practical in the US, but could prove less so for evening tariff callers on holiday in Asia, for example.
Nevertheless, the company said the service would help to end high roaming call charges from overseas. "SmartCall will stretch the home telephone cord all the way to wherever you might be, whether in a coffee shop in Cornwall or on a beach in Bali," said Graeme Oxby, Virgin Media’s executive director of mobile and home phone.
Talk Unlimited customers can use the service at any time of day.
This is positive, and might help some people to reduce roaming charges, but it's competing against well established services such as Skype and numerous other IP/mobile based services and multi-contracts.
Weekends only is rather limited and 'evenings and weekends' for £4.60 is quite costly unless you are on holiday/overseas all the time and aren't worried about getting brain cancer!
Out of hours isn't much use for businesses either, but lets not call it before it turns up. Who knows what packages will actually be available in a years time.
I expect this added competition may result in cost reductions for other products.
By skgiven on 8 Nov 2012
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