Orange today launched a new application called Libon, enabling users to make calls and send texts for free.
Initially just for iOS, but with an Android version due in the first quarter of 2013, the application can be used by customers of any network to communicate with others who have also downloaded the app.
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It will be available in 95 countries for free, with a premium version via an in-app subscription, including unlimited customised greetings for when certain callers leave a message and an hour's worth of international calls
The move comes as mobile operators face a fight against the growing number of ‘over the top’ providers, like Skype or WhatsApp, who offer their web services on mobiles for free.
Libon hopes to have the upper hand due to its app functioning on a 3G network, as well as Wi-Fi connections – which is the connection OTT providers depend on.
If users choose to go over their 3G networks, this ensures a take-home for the mobile operator, unlike Wi-Fi-only apps that circumvent the operator altogether.
Orange is not the first of the mobile operators to launch such an app. In May, Telefonica – the parent company of O2 – launched its TU Me app, again offering the option of making voice calls and sending text messages using mobile data allowances.