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Cellphones Communications Handhelds Networking Wireless Networking

MagicJack Moving To Smartphones 94

robo45h writes "The late night infomercial VoIP company magicJack is moving into the smartphone space. The competition there is really going to be interesting. We have the likes of Skype and other VoIP companies competing against the wireless carriers still selling over-priced voice calls. It's such a big battle that the recent Verizon / Google Proposal specifically excludes (provides a loophole for) wireless. This has been brewing since cell phones added data capabilities, but it's coming to a head now." Free calls sounds nice, but it's worth noting that not everyone's happy with MagicJack's EULA.
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MagicJack Moving To Smartphones

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  • Re:Good... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by h4rm0ny ( 722443 ) on Saturday August 14, 2010 @02:09PM (#33251816) Journal

    They're not going to give that up without a struggle though. What would really shake things up is if instead of my getting a SIM & phone number and letting one phone company thereafter monopolise my usage, I could say "this number is mine" and shop around for whoever offers the best rates. If I could say: 'Orange are doing a cheap deal on data, I'll buy a load from them this month', then we'd be able to actually exert market pressure on these companies. As it is, even Pay As You Go types are effectively locked in. And being locked in, lets them squeeze a lot more money out of us.

    The technology ought to be simple (indeed, it is there), but good luck getting it.
  • Re:Good... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Saturday August 14, 2010 @02:23PM (#33251894) Journal
    Even as a bit carrier, there are two valuable services on top of just carrying bits:
    • Quality of service guarantees.
    • POTS bridging.

    My mobile phone came with a SIP client, and when I am near a WiFi access point I can call any other SIP users for free. Most people don't (yet?) have a SIP address though, so most calls go to my SIP provider who then routes them to a POTS number. This kind of bridging is something that carriers currently offer, but they bundle it with data, so you pay for the call as a single item, rather than for the bandwidth and the bridging as separate items. I'd love to see legislation forcing them to bill the two separately and offer the same rates for the data part irrespective of who you use for termination.

    Quality of service is also very important for voice. GSM quality uses about 5MB an hour. The bandwidth requirements are tiny - a minute of a YouTube video will use more than an hour of talking - but latency and (especially) jitter make a big difference to the perceived quality of the call. Giving higher priority to voice traffic (e.g. reserving some fraction of the available bandwidth for each call) is a valuable service above and beyond just shuffling bits.

  • Re:Good... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Saturday August 14, 2010 @02:39PM (#33251954) Homepage Journal

    Actually, no. Voice over IP over cellular data is an incredibly inefficient way to send voice

    Nonetheless, the mobile operators are moving in that direction. LTE's voice service is supposed, ultimately, to be 100% VoIP, and the 3GPP set the process in motion with IMS.

    Voice over a variable bandwidth packet data system is certainly not the most efficient way to deliver a signal requiring a fairly constant QoS, but the increase in available spectrum and improvements in how we use it mean we're rapidly approaching the point it just plain doesn't matter, especially in a context where it seems likely that voice usage may even start to decrease as other methods of mobile communication take over and become more viable.

  • Re:Good... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rising Ape ( 1620461 ) on Saturday August 14, 2010 @02:45PM (#33251980)

    Having to stick on a packet header every few tens of bytes of data seems very wasteful of limited radio specrum. Wouldn't it make rather more sense to just transmit the voice data to the base station and have the other end and convert to IP there?

    Voice may be a minority of data carried on land-based networks, but that true for mobile networks now as well?

  • by localman57 ( 1340533 ) on Saturday August 14, 2010 @02:49PM (#33251996)
    I think you're missing the point. The point isn't whether it's worth $40, but what they're doing in addition to providing the obvious service. There was a time when party-lines were cheaper than single-service lines. But the trade off was that your neighbors could hear all your business. At the time, people were up-front about that. If Magic-Jack's business plan is to allow you to trade your privacy for cheaper phone service and a bombardment of ads, good for them. As you say, more competition. Let the market decide. But they need to be up front about the whole cost including the non-monitary compromises you're making using their service.
  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Saturday August 14, 2010 @03:02PM (#33252050) Journal

    No I'm talking about the case Paypal already lost sometime around 2004 (which was before Ebay acquired them). The court set-up three tiers of award: ~$75 for class 1 which included everyone, ~$250 for class 2 that had documentation showing Paypal stole the client's money, and class 3 for people who lost thousands. Their claims would be reviewed individually by the court.

    Hopefully I'm remembering the details correctly. I fell into class 1 and had about 75 dollars deposited to my paypal account, which I then withdrew to my bank account.

  • by noidentity ( 188756 ) on Saturday August 14, 2010 @03:20PM (#33252162)
    Wouldn't it be easier if their EULA just stated "You agree that any claims, legal proceeding or litigation arising in connection with the magicJack device or Software will be resolved by us ignoring you."
  • by RicktheBrick ( 588466 ) on Saturday August 14, 2010 @05:41PM (#33252856)
    I have a little bit of experience with the Magicjack system. First my son-in-law had one. Since it is connected to a computer, it will not work unless the computer is turned on. I do not know how many times I called and his computer was not powered up and working. I can just see someone whose house is on fire or a medical emergency waiting for the computer to boot so they can call for help. Why can't they make one that is a stand alone device that works on cat 5 so one can connect it to one's router and eliminate the computer. Second is the man I work for. He has one and has a old computer that he runs 24/7. He has an area code that is hundreds of miles away so if his neighbor wants to call him the call is a long distance call for that neighbor. He has a phone line from that computer to a phone with more than one lines so he can use the magicjack by pressing its line on the phone. Anyway I guess it is okay for calling out and for people who would have to use long distance to call you. I do not know how they can charge so little since I use my Charter for my phone company. The cost seem to be attractive until one adds all the fees and taxes. The real cost is not that much better than Verizon's phone service. How do they get away without paying for 911 services? How about federal and state taxes too? That is why I do not use vonage since they will never quote the true cost since taxes and fees are always added to the quoted price and after one does that the true cost is not worth not having someone to call and complain to if there are any problems. I have used Charter for about 3 years now and have not had any problems with it. It has a adapter with a coaxial line to it. I have a cordless phone connect to the adapter and I have 3 other cordless phone in other rooms that use that system and it works fine. But since the first year has expired the cost is not any better that Verizon and I have that adapter box which will not work if there is no power so if I lose power I will have no way to call for help. I have a old cell phone that I keep charged for that purpose since I can call 911 on it if I lose power or if Charter goes down.
  • by jeremyrnelson ( 1878772 ) on Saturday August 14, 2010 @06:52PM (#33253330)
    I switched two family members from landline services to Ooma last year, and have been extremely pleased with the results. You buy a ~$240 Analog Terminal Adapter to connect analog phones, and never pay again for US calls. The sound quality is better than Vonage, it's certainly a lot cheaper, and if you Upgrade to their Premier service, you get 2 lines, call screening, an iPhone app that lets you make calls using your Ooma account, and some other things that weren't really worth it for us. It seems like their business model is more solid than MagicJack, without the annoyance of being tied to a PC. My recommendation is to purchase the older Hub/Scout package as opposed to the newer models - there are fewer fees (I think all new users have to pay something like $12/year for regulatory charges), and you can use whatever devices you like. The primary downside is what to do when the device dies (which thankfully hasn't happened yet). Their customer service isn't bad, either. Had to call them about porting a number, and it took a while, but they got it right without bouncing me from person to person in India.

Logic is a pretty flower that smells bad.