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ISP Virgin Media UK Takes on Skype with Own WiFi Phone Calling Service

Monday, Nov 5th, 2012 (11:04 am) - Score 2,303

Cable operator Virgin Media has announced customer trials of its new SmartCall service, which allows UK Smartphone users with a Virgin Phone Line to use the unlimited calls from their home phone talk plan on their mobile. But you’ll need to have a wireless internet (wifi) connection to make it work.

Apparently the service itself is managed and delivered via a Smartphone app, which automatically detects whether or not a SmartCall is possible from the active wifi connection and if that call is included in your home phone plan. Crucially this also includes phoning the UK from abroad, which could help to avoid costly “bill shocks” that can occur when using other mobile networks.

Graeme Oxby, Virgin’s Executive Director of Mobile and Phone, said:

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. All you need is a home phone from us, a smartphone and a WiFi connection. This groundbreaking service will give customers even more fantastic value from their phones and is also another example of how technology can make our lives easier.

Virgin Media is best placed to provide the greatest value converged telephone services as the distinction between staying connected in and out of the home blurs and as we look for more ways to give our customers more.”

The ISP claims to have already completed “extensive technical trials” of the service and will now open it up to a limited customer trial in the coming weeks. The service itself will then become available to all Virgin Phone customers from “early 2013“.

Traditionally many people have used Voice-over-IP (VoIP) services like Skype to get around the problem of pricey international calls, although Virgin’s move to make a similar service available to its existing phone line customers could put a serious dent in that market. Hopefully Virgin’s rivals will do something similar.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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