Italys Sevenrings to start mobile VoIP services

Written by Rachana Khanzode | Mumbai | Updated: Jan 16 2009, 03:22am hrs
Italy-based Sevenrings International is all set to launch mobile voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services called Our Free Phone (OFP) in India on Thursday.

According to the firm, OFP will make international calls cheaper by almost 50% since the service is internet-based and the user will have to pay for internet charges only.

The company is in talks with BSNL, MTNL and Idea Cellular to share infrastructure and user base.

Manoj Kumar, head India operations, Sevenrings International, said, We have been running pilots in India since the last six months and have about 2,000 users. We are largely targeting the enterprise customers. The facility will also enable users to have multiple chats on a single interface.

A VoIP basically needs good connectivity and therefore the firm is targeting users that are on the 3G and 2.7G network. These are currently available with BSNL/MTNL and Idea Cellular. The service can be used across a range of mobile phones. It also allow users to maintain existing GSM services on the same phone.

Local users registered on the OFP will have free calling except for Internet charges, which comes to about 20% of the existing charges of per local call in India, Kumar added.

The firm is charging $10 (Rs 450) for registration of services.

It has invested about $ 40 million in the equipment and plans to ramp up operations by taking licenses for WiFi and WiMax services.

The firm said it doesnt need to have a legal tie-up with any of the telephone service providers in India as its server is based in the US and Europe and is not governed by Indian laws.

The routing of calls will be done through Austrian Telecom, an Austrian government undertaking. When an international call is terminated in India, Austrian Telecom pays Indian telephone companies termination charges. Local closed user groups are routed through the companys server and not through services providers, Kumar added.

The firm has servers installed across 20 countries including the US Canada, Italy, Spain Germany, UK, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Romania. However, analysts are concerned over the voice quality to be received but do consider it to be an alternative for users who are looking out for cheaper international call rates. Romal Shetty, executive director (telecom), KPMG, said, If at all the service is viable in India, it will attract users that are looking for cheaper call rates. If the services pick up in the country, it is also expected to ramp up revenues for service providers coming from data cards.