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RF.com Review - Adding Mobility To Your VoIP Services Through Your GSM Network

RF.com Review

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iPhone 5s
Photo Copyright © Apple Inc.
RF.com is an iPhone web application that works in 35 different countries to give users vastly expanded calling services wherever there is a cellular signal. A Wi-Fi connection is not necessary, unlike other iPhone VoIP solutions. With RF.com, you use your basic cell phone service, which is normally pinned down to your house, office or PC, to make calls while on the move using your mobile phone.

What Can RF.com Do?

Whether you are in your car or on a mountain top, as long as you get cellular signals, RF.com allows you to do the following:
  • Make voice calls to Skype, GoogleTalk, MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, and other IM-based voice calling services, even without an actual account with the service. For example, your friend in Russia is on Skype and you don't have a Skype account, RF.com allows you to call her on Skype using your local cellular calling minutes.
  • Use your own VoIP service to make calls over your cell phone. Let's say you are subscribed with a VoIP service (such as Vonage, VoicePulse, Gizmo, etc.) that you use at home to make cheap long distance calls. RF.com allows you to take advantage of your cheap calling minutes while on the move, using your iPhone. You simply select your pre-configured service provider from the RF Dialer pull down menu, enter the international number you wish to call - or click on it from a list of favorites -, your iPhone makes a local cell call to the RF Media server, which completes the VoIP leg of the call using your own VoIP provider.
  • Make mobile calls through your office phone system or PBX as though you are sitting in your office.
  • Make free SIP URI calls. This type of calling will be a rapidly growing method of free point-to-point voice communications soon.

Pros

  • Offers mobility for the cost of cellular calls;
  • Works with many popular service providers;
  • Works with cellular networks, which are available everywhere. Not dependent on Wi-Fi or 3G.
  • RF.com costs nothing.
  • No software installation is necessary, and therefore no need for jailbreaking the iPhone.
  • Allows calls to users of a service even without having an account with the service.

Cons

  • Works only with the iPhone, and in the near future, with only a handful of smartphones.
  • Currently works only in 35 countries.

Review

RF.com is the only application available that allows a user to make IP calls through a myriad of services (including a user's own VoIP provider or office PBX) without the need of WiFi connectivity. The user can bring his or her own service; RF.com is not a service provider. There are however certain prerequisites for using it with a service, like credentials and some other details, and some services are not clear on that with RF.com. Examples are Broadvoice and Packet8. The only target users currently are iPhone users, but RF.com are working on expanding the service to other phones like Google G1 and Nokia S60. Business users can use it as well, with an IP-enabled office system or PBX, such as Asterisk. RF.com allows business users to turn their cell phone into an outgoing call extension of their office system or PBX. For example, if your office phone system is based on the open source Asterisk PBX, it is very easy to set up a secondary extension that allows your outgoing calls to be placed through your office, and the call recipient would see your office number as the caller ID. In addition, any long distance/international call charges will be billed to your office phone system rather than your mobile service provider.

Marcelo Rodriguez, founder of RF.com, told me they are constantly working on improving the product, with the following in the pipeline:

  • Add other countries to the RF.com universe.
  • A native application of the iPhone RF Dialer, with additional features, to be offered through the Apple Application Store;
  • Add the ability to use all RF.com calling services via Wi-Fi, bypassing cellular minutes altogether when an open Wi-Fi signal is available;
  • Expand the application to other platforms, starting with Google G1 phones and Nokia S60 series phones.

Bottom Line

One question you would ask is what reasons you have to choose RF.com over other mobile VoIP services for the iPhone like Fring, Truphone and Yeigo. Firstly, you can make free calls to users on a number of services like Skype, GoogleTalk, MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, and other IM-based voice calling services, even without an actual account with the service. Then, it allows you to make your residential credits (like with Vonage, Gizmo etc.) mobile and using them to make calls on the move. Thirdly, your are pretty sure to be able to make calls anywhere, since GSM networks cover nearly every habitable area, unlike Wi-Fi or 3G. But all this applies only if you live in 35 listed countries and using an iPhone, which makes the subset you are in very restricted. And then, don't forget the cell phone cost between your phone and RF.com's gateway before reaching the free realm of VoIP.
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