App allows landline calls using mobile
A New Zealand internet provider has developed an app which lets people use their smartphone like a landline.
Orcon launched their Genius Go mobile app today which allows customers to make local 'landline' calls and receive calls to their home phone line via their smartphone, wherever they are in the country.
Orcon chief executive Greg McAlister says the app is a world first and will make receiving calls more convenient, and could help people save money on mobile phone calls.
"You're never going to miss a call, ever, because it is always routed to the place most convenient for you."
The app uses the smartphone's 3G data, and call rates are the same as using an Orcon Genius home phone line.
The Orcon Genius home phone plan uses a voice over internet protocol (VoIP) system, which means home phone calls are made over the internet rather than a traditional phone line.
If you are an Orcon customer, the Genius Go app and your router at home are both connected to the Orcon server so both will ring when a call comes through to your home phone number.
Mr McAlister says this means people with the Orcon Genius plan don't necessarily need a landline handset anymore, and can just use their smartphone to answer calls at home.
Orcon senior product manager Beth Brewer says the company has plans in the works to add more features to the Genius Go app in future, and they are looking at integrating it with Orcon mobile.
"We're absolutely going to keep building on this one […] to make the app appeal to a wider market and make Orcon customers' lives easier."
If you are not an Orcon customer, you can still use the Genius Go app on your smartphone as a VoIP system to call or message others who have the app using 3G or a wireless connection.
"Anyone can download it and use it like Viber or Skype," Ms Brewer says.
But she believes the quality of calling over wifi will be better on Genius Go.
Telecommunications Users Association chief executive Paul Brislen says the app is great for Orcon customers.
"It's a fantastic move for customers […] why would you pay more for a phone call?"
But he wonders how the other internet and phone providers will react.
"It's going to be interesting to see how the big telcos respond."
He thinks using data rather than phone plan minutes to make voice calls is the way of the future.
Orcon is the fourth-biggest internet service provider in New Zealand and has about 60,000 customers.