All too often, mobile customers don’t get rewarded for their loyalty towards one carrier or another. It seems that for the most part, networks are far busier creating new custom, than maintaining the relationships with their existing members. Rewarding customers for long term business is something too few companies make good on, a familiar concept to many landline and mobile consumers
Great news for BT customers then, with regards to the arrival of the company’s new SmartTalk app. BT have decided to help mobile users cut their mobile costs by bringing their BT home phone plan to their smartphones. The telecom giant’s new app, called BT SmartTalk lets the user access their landline call plan via their smartphone by directing calls via WiFi or 3G (using mobile data rather than the users minutes). Should you want to place a call, you can use the app’s dialler or the inbuilt address book which synchronises with your smartphone’s own contact list
If you’ve got inclusive minutes to phone landlines at certain times, there will be no charge to make those calls, provided the call would be free in the UK at that time of day
If the call would be chargeable on a home phone, it will be billed at the same rate as if you’d used a landline
Holidaymakers, in particular, could reap the benefits compared to using their mobile in the standard way, though there may be even cheaper ways to call while overseas
BT says two five-minute calls to a UK landline on O2 pay-as-you-go in Thailand would cost £9.90, while Orange PAYG charges £7.20 for a 20-minute call to an 0845 number in the UK
There would be no charge for either using BT inclusive minutes
How do I get it?
Both iPhone and Android users can grab the app for free from the App Store and Google Play respectively. Devices must be running iOS 4.1 or Android 2.1 Eclair or newer, so most users shouldn’t have any trouble grabbing the app
How do I use the app?
Simply make a call via the app to pay BT landline prices. Be warned that while calls to other landlines would be free, calls to mobiles will NOT. You’ll be charged your standard landline-mobile charge
To work best,you should make calls in a free wi-fi zone to improve call quality and so you don’t incur charges
Otherwise, you’ll be using your mobile network, which can not only result in poor call quality but charges can be huge, especially overseas
Virgin Media is trialling a similar app for its customers, Smart Call, which it expects to become widely available in the next couple of months
Dominic Baliszewski at Broadbandchoices, the comparison site, said: “Holidaymakers could save hundreds of pounds when calling home — just make sure you choose a hotel that does not charge through the nose for using its wi-fi”
Can I use the service outside a wi-fi hotspot?
You can make internet calls via the BT app using the 3G network if you are not within range of a wi-fi hotspot. However, you’ll incur your operator’s data usage fees, which can often be expensive abroad
Under rules that came into effect last July, the charge for using data services such as email and web browsing is capped at 58p per megabyte inside the EU. The cap will fall to just 17p by 2014
Outside the EU, however, the cost of downloading data, such as voice calls over a 3G network, is considerably more
What are the alternatives?
Mobile users can already make cheap or free internet calls without being a landline customer by using internet telephony providers such as Skype and Viber
Skype, for example, has a free app that offers competitive rates abroad when connected to wi-fi. Calls to landlines and mobiles are 1.6p a minute with a 3.9p connection charge. Calls made to other Skype users are free
Viber is a smartphone app that allows users to send texts and picture messages and make calls free to other devices that have Viber installed
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