Would you bother to listen to an advertisement while waiting for your call to get through?
Local start-up Gentay Communications is betting that its ad-supported model, adopted by almost every other game and music streaming service, will also work for Internet calls. Available for Android smartphones, the locally made Nanu app provides free unlimited mobile calls using VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). Here's what it can and cannot do.
Spotify for phone calls
The service requires the use of either a data plan or Wi-Fi, and uses your existing phone number to establish a connection. Calls between Nanu users are free, but instead of a dialling ringtone, an audio advertisement will be played while you wait for the other side to pick up the call. A banner advertisement also appears when making a call using Nanu, but you do not have to click on it.
To promote the app, Nanu is currently giving away 15 minutes of free calls to any landline for the first one million users. This is valid for 73 global destinations, including Singapore, China and the United States. These 15 minutes can also be used to call non-Nanu mobile phones for free in nine countries, including Singapore, India and Thailand. The full list of countries can be found here.
At the moment, there is no way for users to earn more free minutes, though Gentay plans to increase the current 15 minutes worth of free calls if it is able to get more advertising revenue. So if you are in the middle of a call when the free minutes expire, your call will be dropped.
Gentay claims that its app uses an ultra low bandwidth technology that is able to provide quality Internet calls even on 2G networks, unlike rivals that require at least a 3G connection. According to the start-up, a 1GB data plan is enough for 10,000 minutes of calls using Nanu, due to lower bandwidth usage. In comparison, Skype would only be able to provide 2,500 minutes with a 1GB data plan.
Calls only, no messages
Nanu is limited to just making phone calls. Unlike VoIP competitors such as Skype and Viber, Nanu is not able to make group calls. On the other hand, these rival apps do not give free call time to non-users.
The current version of Nanu is not capable to sending text messages, though Gentay Communications says on its website that it is working on a messaging component for the app.
Android for now
Nanu is currently available on Android, with an iOS version for iPhones to follow in November. The start-up plans to launch desktop versions for Windows and Mac computers, though it did not reveal any launch dates.
This article was first published on August 5, 2014.
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