As the economic hammer has come down, mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) from the likes of Disney, Amp’d, and Helio have either faded away or been acquired by larger mobile players, and the current climate would not seem to be ripe for starting up a new MVNO business. But don’t tell that to Zer01, which is now accepting pre-registrations for its forthcoming flat-rate, contract-free service. Zer01 says it will offer unlimited voice and data service for $69.95 a month once it launches, with no gotchas or hidden fees. Unlimited international service will be available for $79.95 a month.
Is there a catch? Kind of. Zer01 doesn’t operate using traditional switched voice networks: instead, it relies solely on 3G data service via AT&T and a custom VoIP application for Windows Mobile 6. Zer01 says it plans to launch its VoIP application for BlackBerry, Android, Symbian, and Java-capable phones in the future, and maybe even bring an application to jailbroken iPhones.
Unlike most current VoIP applications, Zer01’s VoIP application is set up to enable users to dial directly from their device’s keypad and works with Windows Mobile device’s integrated mics and earpieces. Zer01 also says their application offers good quality service even in areas wher AT&T 3G services isn’t available and the phone has to switch to lower-bandwidth EDGE and GPRS connectivity—which, if true, would be a neat trick.
Zer01 plans to announce its launch date in April, and commence a private beta of its service on April 1. Pre-registration is open now.
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