Jaxtr has launched a new service called FreeConnect that allows subscribers to talk to each other for free on their mobile phones.
The VoIP startup’s CEO, Bahman Koohestani, said he expected the service to attract new members, some of who will switch to the more convenient and feature rich premium services offered by Jaxtr.
The free calls ploy has been used beforeby other VoIP companies – among them Rebtel and AOL – but has never proven to be a great success.
A drawback to FreeConnect is its complexity. All users have to be members of Jaxtr.
To make a call, the number has to be entered into Jaxtr, which then provides a local number for the caller to use.
This is then dialled on the cell phone and Jaxtr sends an SMS message to the person being called with a number that’s local for them.
They then dial this number and the two callers can then have a free mobile call for as long as they like.
While the call set-up is long-winded, once doen the same local numbers can be used again in the future.
What Jaxtr is hoping is that sufficient numbers of callers will tire of the process and make their calls on Jaxtr’s paid service.
Koohestani insists that FreeConnect will not just be available for a trial period.
That remains to be seen, especially as Jaxtr will incur overhead costs for the FreeConnect service.
In June, the company completed a USD $10 million funding round but then had to lay off 13 staff.
Its CEO Konstantin Guericke then resigned and Koohestani (VP Engineering) stepped up to be interim CEO.