We want to call internationally without paying a small fortune. We want to block unwanted calls. We don’t want a new number every time we switch carriers.
I had to double check the date on this post. Many countries in the world have had local number portability for years. In the US, since the late 90s. Also: SMS, VoIP, Skype, FaceTime, iMessage, etc.
Yeah, it’s unclear what “bolt” plans to sell.
We plan to sell you a phone number and a replacement for your carrier voice and messaging plan that runs over the IP network, either WiFi or a carrier data plan.
Like republicwireless.com but with my Phone?
Yes, it’s true that number portability is a thing, and even legally required in the US. But there is still significant friction.
I happen to be the founder of Bolt, so take this anecdote with as many grains of salt as you want. But last weekend I spent 45 minutes in an AT&T store with my mom trying to port her number from Verizon. We had all of the requisite info, and the rep who was helping us must have entered it all into his porting iPad app 5 or 6 times with slight variations each time.
We then got on the phone with Verizon, still sitting with the patient AT&T rep, to confirm all the info. All info was correct. Back to the app to try a couple more variations. Finally had another rep come over who thought to back all the way up to the beginning and figured out that we were attempting the port in the wrong market. My mom has a DC number but we were in a store in Philadelphia.
Even after discovering that, the iPad app refused to let us switch the market to DC. So we moved over to a desktop PC and after 10 more minutes of fiddling with that the port finally went through.
After it was all said and done my mom and I were exhausted and she told me she never would have had the patience to persevere without me there.
I don’t think this is uncommon. Number portability is a half-solution to the problem that carriers are generally terrible and try to lock you in. Phone number lock-in was the most obvious way, but there are many others.
And even when you can port, there are often restrictions. For instance, I think it used to be true that on certain carriers you couldn’t port into a pre-paid plan, only contract-based post-paid plans.
I’ve considered using an iPod touch rather than an iPhone before and using Bria with encrypted VoIP for calls but the problem then is needing WiFi everywhere. We’re just not quite there yet but it’s close. I would pay a lot for an iPhone with a data only plan that could do this. Basically exactly what an iPad with cellular has but in the iPhone form factor.
There’s a speed-of-light problem here. I’ve tried every mobile VoIP solution from as many companies as I can find, and none of them can compete with the latency of a regular ol' cell call due to doubling or tripling of the data path.
This may be due in part to those of us from the northeast being fast talkers, but trying to have my weekly call with my mom on anything else leads to us constantly talking over each other and no end to frustration. There may one day be a solution to the proposed pick-your-phone-number-like-your-email, but it will require carrier support for the foreseeable future.