Ribbit, the internet telephony firm that BT bought in 2008, is to roll out a beta version of its online call management and phone backup service early next year.
Ribbit Mobile will be available as a free beta trial in the first quarter of 2010, BT said on Tuesday. The service lets mobile-phone users make and answer calls on the internet, using their mobile-phone numbers. It also converts voicemails to text that can be delivered through email or SMS, and provides a cloud-based backup service for voicemails and other messages.
Other features include the ability to route incoming calls to other mobile or fixed phones, or to web-based VoIP services such as Skype and Google Talk. Ribbit Mobile also provides federated contact functionality, in that it can show a contact's recent blogging activity and Twitter or Facebook status in a single view.
"There are more than 60 million mobile phones in the UK today, and the Ribbit Mobile service works with most of them," Ribbit chief executive Ted Griggs said in a statement. "You don't need a new number or a new device, and you don't have to download software or sign a contract. You simply activate Ribbit on your phone and go."
Ribbit Mobile is a rival to Google Voice, in that both provide online management of mobile-phone calls and messages. The company said in a blog on 14 October that is working on making it possible to integrate its VoIP service into Google Wave and Google's App Engine, as well as OpenSocial applications.
BT bought the Mountain View-based company, whose core product is a software-based telephone switch that can act in much the same way as a hardware-based switch, but also handle internet-centric protocols such as SIP and Skype, in July 2008 for $105m (£53m).
People interested in taking part in Ribbit Mobile's beta phase can register their interest on the company's site now — accounts will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.