Mobile VoIP set to slash telecoms costs in South Africa using Wi-Fi networks


A few university graduates formed a mobile-based voice over internet protocol (VoIP) that will slash costs by up to 80 percent. While the telecoms regulator is still debating whether to intervene in South Africa's high mobile charges, a few university graduates took advantage of this gap to form a cellphone-based voice over internet protocol (VoIP) that will slash costs by up to 80 percent.

The University of Cape Town graduates' company is called Yeigo, founded by chief executive Rapelang Rabana, Lungisa Matshoba and Wilter du Toit. The former classmates started the company in December 2005. It took them two years to complete software features and the system was commercially launched in February this year.

Yeigo will use a mobile-based VoIP network that is similar to its land line counterpart. The network has been on the market for a few years, but it was mainly used by corporate and private clients who wanted to avoid calling at Telkom rates. The fixed-line VoIP is popular when calling international countries.

The company's cellphone VoIP system not only offers cheap rates, it also gives callers free cellphone calls, provided they are registered on Yeigo. "Yeigo is easily accessible and will see businesses saving thousands of rands on their telecoms costs," said Ivan Ferrer, non-executive chairman of Yeigo and the founder of Pastel Software.

According to Ferrer, many businesses have already implemented fixed-line VoIP. He sees cellphone VoIP as a natural extension that offers greater flexibility and bigger savings than fixed-line VoIP. Yeigo saves users money by directing their voice calls through the internet via wireless fidelity (wi-fi) hot spots or the operators' data networks, rather than over the voice network.

The only cost incurred by a Yeigo user, when calling another Yeigo user anywhere in the world, is the data cost of connecting to the internet.

Calls made through a wi-fi connection could be totally free to the user in a freely available hot spot.

In addition, a Yeigo user who calls a non-Yeigo user will enjoy substantial savings on the cost of calls. Savings on calls to international destinations can be as high as 80 percent.

The cost of sending an SMS through Yeigo is cheaper: only 35c during peak time to most destinations around the world, compared with 80c during peak time on the networks.

Yeigo gives users the freedom to communicate across platforms such as cellphone- and internet-based technologies. Yeigo users can, for example, communicate via their cellphones with users on internet platforms such as GoogleTalk, MSN, AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ, Yahoo and Jabber. But not all phones are able to receive the services.

At the moment, cellphone handsets must have Windows Mobile or Symbian operating systems, and high-speed internet connectivity such as enhanced data rates for GSM evolution, 3G or high-speed downlink packet access, and wi-fi to be able to access the Yeigo system.

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