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Vyke moves VoIP battle to SMS

Operators charging more than NASA for messaging

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VoIP provider Vyke has added text messaging to its mobile phone client, enabling its customers to text each other for free and charging just over a penny to text anyone else.

The UK based company reckons it's 10 times cheaper for NASA to get messages back from the Hubble space telescope than for you to text your mate - byte for byte - and anyone exceeding their bundled text messages will know how the cost of compulsive texting can add up.

Vyke already offers a Jajah-like service, using a Java client to configure a call which is then received as incoming by both parties, but extending that to text requires some mechanism to enable the receiving phone to wake up and get the message.

Truphone, which also recently announced the addition of text to its services, uses a memory-resident client and forwards the text over the GSM network if that client isn't connected. But not many devices will support a memory-resident client, so Vyke uses JSR120 (the Java Messaging API) which triggers their Java client to run on receipt of an appropriately formatted message.

Both solutions use the data channel to send text messages, breaching the terms and conditions for data bundles - such as Vodafone UK's, which explicitly excludes "text messaging clients".

Vyke CEO Kjetil Bohn is forthright in his defence of the company's right to provide such services: "Like the other companies in this area we are looking at if it's legal for operators to limit services...we don't want to, but somewhere down the road we will have to take the fight [to the operators] legally."

If the public embraces applications of this kind, network operators are going to have a hard time maintaining their income. With European roaming getting capped and text messaging under attack, two of the biggest mobile cash cows are looking decidedly unwell. ®

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