Communicating Without A Handset With ‘Cloud Phone’

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Sun, Feb 27, 2011 — Jaideep Majumdar



Being out of contact over mobile phone can be a stressful experience for people in the 21st century. The word "nomophobia" has been coined to describe the affliction of leaving home without mobile phone. This gadget has become so ubiquitous and pervasive that most people cannot think of a life without mobile phones. Communication has catapulted to an all together different strata with the use of mobile phones and a feeling of insecurity and utter frustration sets in when one is either out of the range of connectivity or without the device altogether. However, even now there are areas in this world which have not been touched by this global phenomenon. There are people in the developing world who have not yet benefitted by this wonder gadget.

It is with a mission to make the benefits of this gadget available to the widest possible base of people that a UK-based company Movirtu has started a service. For those who cannot avail of their own handsets, Movirtu's low cost phone service helps them to own a ‘cloud phone' account with their own number. People have to subscribe to the service by visiting their local village payphone agent or the vendor selling airtime voucher to buy a mobile number. In order to access the account all one has to do is to borrow a phone from a friend or family member or access a community phone and enter a network code; the code activates the service (MXShare platform) and enables the Cloud Phone Service on the phone.


The motto which drives Movirtu is "mobile for the next billion". The company believes that a number should not be attached to a device rather it should be identified with a person - echoing a concept which one of India's mobile service providers has used in their publicity messages in the recent past.  Without the MXShare platform these people would be anonymous and would not be able to receive text messages and mobile payments. This service provides them with a unique identity and a prepaid account. All basic mobile handsets available in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia work on this platform and no special SIM cards or additional client software is required to run this service. The handshaking between the mobile handset and the MXShare server takes place over a secure network so the privacy issues are properly addressed while transmitting information. After a subscriber is logged in to the system it enables real time communication and also takes care of the offline activity. Tracking missed calls and sending notification alerts to friends and operators when connected is how the system bridges offline activity.

The phone owner who lends the phone to the subscriber gets rewarded for his generosity. A one-time fixed amount or a percentage of the cost of the call or transaction is offered as an incentive and a thank you gesture for sharing the handset.

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