Airtel is the largest mobile carrier in India, but even that kind of market position wasn't enough to push through a change the carrier desperately wanted. After announcing last week it would begin charging extra for VoIP data, Airtel has backed down in the face of bad press and angry customers. VoIP calls will continue to be billed as regular data, at least for now.
Bharti Airtel is the largest cellular carrier in India with roughly 200 million subscribers. Basically, it has some weight to throw around, and it's using it to strike a blow against net neutrality. Airtel has amended its terms and conditions to stipulate that its data plans cover standard internet use only, meaning increasingly popular VoIP services like Skype are not included. If you want to make VoIP calls, it costs extra.
In this day and age, people increasingly dial a phone number expecting to reach you, not your house. As long as land lines are tied to a traditional phone, there's no way of knowing who's going to pick that thing up when it starts ringing, and people waiting on a call have to hover in the vicinity in order to hear it go off.
With Phone 2 Go, Time Warner Cable is giving customers the tools to free themselves from these restraints.
Android users have yet another option for data-only calls and text messages today, as BitTorrent Inc. posted an alpha version of its Bleep communication client to the Play Store. Bleep is designed to be an alternative to conventional calling and texting systems like Skype or WhatsApp, and requires no central server or service. Bleep has been invite-only since July, but now it's ready to go public. Clients are also available for Windows and OS X computers.
We saw Google Voice integration go live last night, but it contained a number of issues which this update is expected to fix. Yet as exciting as this is, what's more immediately striking is the new visual redesign.
With the amount of smudging this post required, I feel like I've been working on classified documents. The new version of Hangouts plasters your email address absolutely everywhere. It's not an issue when using the app, but it does make for some rather swirly screenshots.
Rakuten is often referred to by western media as "the Amazon of Japan." That description seems more and more apt given some of the mega-retailer's recent purchases, including Canadian e-reader company Kobo. Yesterday Rakuten announced that it had purchased Viber, an up-and coming voice-over-IP company with apps on Android, iOS, and Windows, among others, for a whopping $900 million.
Viber is primarily a Skype competitor, though it also offers text and picture messaging, group chat, and cross-communication between mobile and desktop operating systems.