Free Phone Calls With Bobsled
Bobsled is a free Internet voice and messaging service that lets you make free voice calls to mobile and landline phones in the U. S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. You like free calling? Read on to learn more about Bobsled...
Jump On Bobsled and Call for Free
Bobsled is an online service from T-Mobile that is similar to Skype, Google Voice, and a host of other VoIP services. With Bobsled, you can make free phone calls to people in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. Bobsled also lets you make live voice calls to your Facebook contacts, leave voicemail messages on their Walls, and initiate phone calls during Facebook chat.
The Bobsled apps (one for calling, one for messaging) are available for desktop and laptop computers (Windows or Mac OS X), iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad, and on Android smartphones and tablets. Sorry, Windows Phone, Blackberry and Linux users -- no Bobsled for you.
The people you call don't need Bobsled to receive your calls. They'll answer their phone just like they would for any other call. You can also make voice calls to other Bobsled users (like you would with Skype) or make a voice call to a Facebook friend.
When you call a Facebook user, the recipient will get a Facebook chat message, which contains a link. When they click that link, your call is connected. You can also leave a voice message, with the option of posting the message publicly on your friend's Facebook wall, or (for private calls) directing it to their Facebook inbox.
Bobsled claims 2 million users, which isn’t bad for a service barely one year old. Skype, on the other hand, has hundreds of millions of users worldwide. Bobsled’s limited international coverage probably has slowed its growth. So has its lack of videoconferencing capability, which T-Mobile claims to be working on. Over 10 million calls have been completed using Bobsled since the service debuted in April, 2011. Of those calls, 80 percent have been international. In contrast, the company says that 90 percent of messages are sent domestically.
The Bobsled Conundrum
What’s remarkable about Bobsled it that it's a service of T-Mobile, a wireless carrier whose revenues Bobsled seems to threaten. Wireless phone service providers make their money by carrying your phone calls over their cellular networks. But Bobsled allows you to bypass that, and make phone calls over the Internet. Bobsled works on any Internet connection, including wifi and data plans offered by other wireless carriers. In fact, T-Mobile reports that 95 percent of Bobsled users are not its subscribers.
Bobsled's ability to make free phone calls with over wifi brings up an interesting possibility. Buy a used smartphone, don't sign up for phone service with a mobile provider, and just use wifi to connect to the Internet. You'd be able to dial out to regular phone numbers without paying any per-call or monthly phone costs. For incoming calls, you'd be limited (since you don't have a phone number) but you could receive voice calls from other Bobsled users. And of course it would only work when you're connected to a wifi hotspot.
Why has T-Mobile released a free service that competes with its bread-and-butter subscription services? The company says it’s willing to trade some revenues from minutes and messages to associate its brand with users’ other communication habits, especially Facebook and the iPad. Bobsled could also be a public experiment in what the next generation of communications carriers may look like. T-Mobile has said that it hopes to grow Bobsled’s user base to the point where ad revenues would be meaningful.
If you're already a Skype user, it might seem there's not much news here. But Skype's free calls are limited to Skype-to-Skype calling. (Both parties must have Skype.) Bobsled lets you call real-world phone numbers -- both mobile and landline for free. Bobsled's integration with Facebook is one unique feature that might be compelling to some users. But the limited international calling and the lack of video chat will turn some away. But T-Mobile says "we're working on it" so you might want to check back every few months to see what's new with Bobsled.
It’s rather strange to see a phone company acting like Google, conducting disruptive experiments that undermine the status quo. But that seems to be what Bobsled is all about. It'll be interesting to see if Bobsled can gain widespread acceptance in the market, given the headstart and popularity enjoyed by Skype, Google Voice and other players in the VoIP arena.
Have you tried Bobsled or other VoIP services for free calling? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 26 Nov 2012
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Free Phone Calls With Bobsled (Posted: 26 Nov 2012)
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