Operators used to fear VoIP; now it's just another product line.
Tu Me is apparently the first of several new products promised by Telefonica's global business division.
Its appearance exemplifies the radical change in the telco landscape over the past five years, and the impact of 'over the top' messaging services like Skype, WhatsApp, BBM and Viber.
Operators used to fear these services as they guarded their voice and text revenues. Now, they have accepted the commodification of messaging and voice calls and see the future in wrapping up a bunch of diverse options in one monthly tariff, of which data is a key component.
The iPhone app (Android coming soon) lets users make calls and send messages without using up their quota of call minutes or texts. Instead, the usage uses data, which is part of the monthly data allowance. Or they can use wi-fi.
Tu Me is free to download and will be promoted to the 300m subscribers of O2, Movistar and Vivo networks.
Both the caller and recipient must have the app installed for it to work. Users will receive a pop-up notification when someone is trying to get in contact, prompting them to launch the software.
However, unlike many VoIP services, users cannot make calls to regular telephone numbers.
"We've seen the growing popularity of communication apps on smartphones but we believe we've gone one better with Tu Me using our knowledge and insights of how people use their devices," said Telefonica Digital's chief commercial officer Stephen Shurrock.
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