Mobilkom chief marketing officer Hannes Ametsreiter told Light Reading and Unstrung from the 3GSM show floor that the new service is "like Skype but with mobility features."
Based on IMS, the service combines a SIP address with a mobile phone number. It is not proprietary so that users can call any SIP client. Users can access the service through their PCs or HSDPA mobile handsets.
"VOIP is here and it's happening," said Ametsreiter. "We either be part of it, or miss it, and [players like Skype] cut out our revenues. And that's what we don't like."
Mobilkom is one of the first big operators to embrace a consumer VOIP service. Most operators have not yet decided how to handle the technology that threatens to take away their voice traffic.
"Operators face several choices," says Patrick Donegan, senior analyst at Heavy Reading. "At the two extremes, they can either block Skype and other VOIP services, or offer VOIP as a better service than Skype. The smart operator will launch its own service and guarantee good quality of service."
Mobilkom has added a few features to its VOIP service, including a multi-ring function. Incoming calls ring on a user's PC and on their mobiles. Also, subscribers can retrieve voice messages from their PC or mobile. Users can send SMS messages and caller line identification is also included.
"We're offering features that [Skype] can't because they don't own the network," said Ametsreiter.
The service costs 3.90 euros ($5) per month on top of Mobilkom's basic monthly subscription. PC-to-PC calls are free. Mobile-to-PC and PC-to-mobile calls are charged at regular voice tariff rates, which depends on what package a customer signs up to. Mobilkom is waiving the monthly rental for customers who sign up to the new service by the end March.
And there have been many other mobile VOIP announcements at the 3GSM show in Barcelona:
— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading