A mobile phone service that enables users to make international phone calls, send texts, and use instant messaging at cheap rates via VoIP has been launched by EQO Communications .

EQO Mobile enables users to make calls up to 98 per cent cheaper than using regular mobile international calling. It is one of a growing number of mobile phone-based applications that uses internet based VoIP technology.

EQO Mobile operates using a free downloadable application that sits on the phone. EQO Mobile users can import all their existing mobile contacts, and add details for IM and other EQO users. Making a call, sending a text or IM messaging can be done easily by selecting an appropriate contact in the address book. The EQO Mobile app also has presence indicators for IM services.

Free calls

EQO offers free online calls between EQO users, and free text messages to EQO users, plus there's free instant messaging for IM services including MSN Messenger, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger, AIM, ICQ and others.

Using the EQO Mobile system, voice calls do incur the cost of a local phone call, as the call goes through the regular mobile network as it's routed to the EQO service, although inclusive bundled airtime can cover tthese calls. VoIP technology then carries the call across the internet where it is again routed via a regular telecoms network to the required number.

The EQO Mobile service works with hundreds of Java-enabled handsets, and will initially be launched in 20 countries across Europe and North America, including the UK.