TextNow, the all-IP Sprint MVNO that launched in August 2013, announced the launch of Touch Mobile at the CTIA mobile industry trade show earlier this week.
Touch Mobile, like TextNow Wireless (and FreedomPop), is a data only Sprint MVNO that uses VOIP and SIP technology to route calls and texts over WiFi or cellular data.
Touch Mobile says that their technology allows for a seamless hand-off of calls between Wi-Fi, 4G LTE and 3G cellular networks. Plan prices, which start $20/30 days for 200MB, include visual voicemail and 4G LTE or WiMAX data. Calls and texts are unlimited on WiFi and limited only by available data on cellular. Touch Mobile says that 200MB is enough data to send 200,000 texts or use 660 talk minutes.
There's a Touch Mobile Android app lets users check their voicemail and text messages, as well as send texts and make calls using tablets and other Internet connected devices. Like other VOIP/SIP apps, the Touch Mobile app gives users the ability to make and receive calls anywhere in the world using WiFI.
The biggest difference between TextNow and Touch seems to be that TextNow is only available online, while Touch Mobile will be sold through local retail stores. No retail partners have been announced yet but Touch is recruiting dealers on their Website. Touch Wireless' announcement mentions that customers don't need a credit or debit card to use the service as they can pay cash at retail locations. If a user is late with a payment, Touch Mobile gives them a four day grace period during which they can still make calls, send texts and receive messages with their phone using Wi-Fi networks.
Touch Mobile offers four plans:
|Price / 30 Days||Data||WiFi Minutes / Texts
||Estimated Cellular Minutes / Texts|
|$20||200 MB||unlimited||660 / 200,000|
|$25||500 MB||unlimited||1660 / 500,000|
|$35||1 GB||unlimited||3410 / 1,024,000|
|$50||2 GB||unlimited||6820 / 2,048,000|
Touch Mobile will launch with three Samsung phones, the WiMAX Galaxy S II and the LTE capable Galaxy S III and Galaxy Victory. Phone prices will be in the $100 to $200 range.
All-IP service is an interesting concept but Touch Mobile's pricing seems high for what you get. Touch is competing against free VOIP services like Google Hangouts and Ring.to, less expensive all-IP service from FreedomPop and $20-$25/month unlimited talk and text plans from Ultra Mobile, PTel, MetroPCS, Cricket and several other operators. Or you can roll your own All-IP service by combining RedPocket's $5/month 500MB on T-Mobile or FreedomPop's free 500MB on Sprint with a free VOIP app like Hangouts, Ring.To or GroVe IP. Compared with the competition, Touch Mobile seems like a tough sell.