The VoIP revolution has mostly taken place through land-based phone solutions, like business phone networks and at call centers. VoIP reduces the cost of phone calls by routing calls more efficiently through the Internet instead of through traditional phone lines, but these savings are largely dependent on a user's Internet connection.
Mobile VoIP has often been touted as a solution to the vice-grip that mobile carriers have on their customers since users would only have to pay for a data plan, and could receive texting and calling services through a third-party app. Unfortunately, mobile data networks are often unreliable, and spotty coverage means that it can only work well in a handful of locations.
However, mobile VoIP pioneer TextNow seems to have found a workable solution to the dilemma, by releasing an update to their Android (News - Alert) app that allows users to swap their calls between cellular and Wi-Fi networks. This flexibility means that callers can always use whichever network has the strongest signal.
TextNow started as an OTT messaging app, but last year the company became their own mobile virtua network operator, offering an all-IP phone service. Unfortunately, this service is still not as reliable as most cellular networks are, which is why the ability to switch between Wi-Fi and cellular is so powerful. Having the choice may mean that users will end up needing a phone plan that includes at least some talking minutes, but ideally the user would only need to use that service sparingly.
As a standalone provider TextNow offers relatively competitive prices, with the baseline plan only costing $19 monthly or 500 MB of data and 750 outgoing call minutes. The plan also includes unlimited incoming calls, as well as unlimited text messaging services.
Edited by Alisen Downey