3,331. That’s how many miles there are between me and my fiancee, who lives on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Like millions of other couples around the world, we’re in a long distance relationship. This has its own costs. We see each other every three months on average, each time spending thousands of dollars on hotels and flights.
Then, there’s the cost of speaking on the phone. Despite the disruptive effect of Skype and Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), calling each other’s mobile phones is still an expensive proposition. Or rather, was, because I’ve just started using Meucci.
Named after Antonio Meucci – one of the many people attributed as being an inventor of the telephone – this Android and iOS app promises virtually-free international and long-distance calling, forever. It does this by combining the old-school GSM technology that powers your cell phone with VOIP (Voice Over IP).
The way Meucci works is delightfully simple. Once installed, it will scan your address book, hunting for names and contacts. You can call these directly through the app. Alternatively, you can dial numbers manually.
When you call someone with Meucci, you don’t actually connect to them directly. The app will instead dial a local number (a VOIP server) that then connects you to the person you wish to speak with. This means that you effectively pay a local rate to call an international number. It also means that the person you’re calling doesn’t need to have the app installed for it to work.
If you’re on a phone plan with unlimited minutes, as so many of us are, your call is effectively free. As an added bonus, it also means that you don’t need to be connected to Wi-Fi or mobile internet in order to make a call.
However, if you are on a metered plan, you can tell Meucci to skip the local call and connect to the VOIP server directly. This will save you precious minutes.
The only downside I’ve observed is that you when using Meucci have to wait a little bit longer for your call to be connected than you would dialing directly. In my experience, this can be as long as 30 seconds.
In terms of call quality, Meucci is impeccable. There’s very little distortion or lag, and calls very seldom drop.
Meucci also has a built-in messaging feature, and allows you to make group calls. These work just like a one-on-one call, and can supposedly support an unlimited number of participants.