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TalkPlus unveils virtual phone number service

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The VoIP blog scene virtually exploded yesterday with news about TalkPlus and its virtual phone number offering. (Which is ironic, because it's not even a VoIP service. Anyways...) The sources are too numerous to list, but I'll point to Tom and Ken since I read it on their blogs first and their articles are the most detailed.

What is TalkPlus?
The way I understand it, when you sign up with TalkPlus, you'll be able to choose one or more virtual phone number that will point to your mobile phone. A virtual number can be local to any location, so for example, if your primary number has a New York area code, you can pick a virtual number in India that lets your relatives or business partners save money compared to making a long-distance call. You can also make calls from your phone and have the virtual number appear on the receiver's CallerID.

Then you have a management center that lets you customize your call-screening, blacklist/whitelist, privacy, contact, and voicemail options. Essentially your mobile phone now has "multiple personalities". You can have an office number that goes directly to voicemail after 5pm which you only give to your work contacts. And you have a general phone number which you give to your family and friends. Use another phone number when you fill out applications and let the telemarketers always go to voicemail. You can find many uses, even making prank calls, but the first major market TalkPlus plans to service is the online dating community.

Virtual phone numbers provide an added layer of privacy and security for anyone who dates random strangers, whether they meet them at a bar or through a dating service. TalkPlus has recognized that need and has partnered with a yet-to-be-named online dating service. Theoretically, you could have a different virtual number for each dating partner. The service has not yet been spelled out, but should cost roughly $10 monthly.

How does it work?
I mentioned earlier that TalkPlus isn't a VoIP provider. Though they use a data connection to setup calls using the virtual number, the voice part of the call still travels over the standard voice connection, never over the Internet, meaning it will be the same quality as a normal call. It also means that the E911 service will function just fine. It runs from a Java application and works with any WAP enabled phone, which is nearly all phones these days. Hopefully it will be as seamless to use as possible.

Be on the lookout for this Voice 2.0 company to make some big waves.


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