updated 06:50 pm EDT, Thu March 12, 2009
Zer01 Mobile new carrier
A fledgling cellular carrier, Zer01 Mobile has announced that it will offer unlimited voice and data for only $70 a month and without a contract, according to PC Magazine. The company also claims to offer a network as large as AT&T's, although the service is actually derived from a roaming agreement with the cellular giant and other carriers such as T-Mobile, but utilizing its own IP system.
Instead of using the typical circuit-switched system for voice calls, all of the calls made from a Zer01 device will be routed through a VoIP application. Only Windows Mobile-based smartphones will be supported initially, but the company plans to add Android, BlackBerry, Symbian and Java platforms. Even jailbroken iPhones will eventually be supported.
"No calls, period, go out over the GSM network," CEO Ben Piilani said. To avoid the hassle of opening the app each time a call is made, the software will integrate with the dialer apps to allow a call to be dialed directly from the keypad.
Zer01 claims to avoid the potential quality issues of slower networks by using new processing technology. "We've developed specific algorithms in our technology that address latency issues across the GSM networks," Piilani said.
A handset on the network is assigned a fixed IP address that provides a VPN tunnel to Zer01's servers, where the traffic is managed to prevent overload on the cellular networks. "It's our own VPN, and we're actually providing the data the customer is using," Piilani added. The company avoids data caps by using established interconnect agreements.
Customers can use their own unlocked smartphones, or purchase a device from the company. Three HTC handsets will be available including the TyTnII, Touch Diamond and Touch 3G. Pharos' Windows Mobile devices are next on the list.
The $70 a month covers unlimited VoIP calls and data, while an extra $10 adds international calling to 40 countries. A closed beta will launch sometime in April.