Truphone to launch 'no-click' voice on Wi-Fi

Voice on Wi-Fi specialist Truphone will update its software to offer "no-click" access, which will allow the automatic logging-in at public hotspots and make Wi-Fi voice more like a mobile phone.

"This makes Wi-Fi as easy to use as the GSM network," said James Tagg, chief executive of Truphone. The Truphone client will roam hotspots such as BT OpenZone without user intervention, and without the user needing to pay the hotspot provider. Users will only pay, per-minute for the minutes of the calls they make and receive while they are connected, and will be billed through Truphone.

The service, which will be delivered sometime around Christmas, is the result of a deal with network integrator Quiconnect. "We are in the background making it happen, while Truphone provides the commercial interface to the user," said Luke Vinogradov, product manager at Quiconnect.

"The majority of Truphone users have been making calls from home and office Wi-Fi networks, but there are a lot of calls that need to be made outside of those places," said Tagg. Having subscriptions at Wi-Fi providers and logging in every time was, he said, "beyond the capabilities and interest of many users - even those with qwerty keyboards."

As well as making calls outside the home or office, per-minute charging makes it practicable to receive Truphone calls at public hotspots, since it is no longer necessary to pay for the time connected while waiting for the call, he said.

To deliver the service Truphone will become a Wi-Fi aggregator, buying Wi-Fi access wholesale and selling it to users, a bit like iPass or Boingo. The biggest difference is that Truphone will not require user interaction during log-on, and is voice-centric, said Tagg.

The Truphone client will be able to connect through the Internet to Quiconnect's servers to authenticate, without user intervention, and even before the user has Internet access. In most cases this will be through "whitelists" thanks to deals between the hotspot provider and Quiconnect. In other cases, the client will be able to connect to Quiconnect's servers for authentication, through similar technology to that provided by Devicescape.

Quiconnect hopes to use its tools to let service providers reach other devices with limited screens or keyboards, such as MP3 players or cameras, said Vinogradov: "It's equally applicable to other mobile online experiences, perhaps letting people top up their music library on the go."

Quiconnect has been linking up Wi-Fi services for some time, providing connectivity for the Wireless Broadband Alliance and BT OpenZone for instance.

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