Can over-the-top voice services free you from mobile minutes charges?

U.S. wireless carriers fear that Web voice services will take a bite out of their profits and consumers could benefit.

By Paul Kapustka, PC World |  Unified Communications, Face Time, Facebook

What seems to have made Tango more of a success than some previous entries in the field is its ease of setup, which requires just a name and a phone number. Another interesting feature lets you turn off the video midcall, in case you need to do a hair check. Tango, which raised a $40 million round of funding in April, claims to have 45 million registered users. Tango works over cellular connections and Wi-Fi, and offers client software for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone devices. It's also available for PCs.

Perhaps more full-featured is the OoVoo video chat service, which allows up to 12 people to participate in a group video chat. OoVoo has both a free version and a premium version ($30 per year or $3 per month), as well as a new Facebook app that should help the company add to its claimed installed base of 46 million users. The premium version eliminates ads, allows screen sharing, and has "priority support," according to OoVoo.

Can Carriers Compete in OTT?

Even as the new services gain followers, the real competition may start when the major wireless carriers finally give up on their voice and messaging cash cows and try to compete on features. A big, expected shift in the phone-billing arena finally arrived last month, when Verizon unveiled its first attempt at so-called family plans, which allow users to bundle multiple devices together under a single data-services contract.

Although the family-plan approach does help to cut the costs of separate voice and messaging plans, it doesn't result in savings for every user. It also fails to answer the competitive lure of video or voice chat services that are portable across multiple platforms and work with a single username.


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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