T-Mobile today launched Bobsled, a new brand that provides of cloud-based communications services over the Internet by "bridging the world of traditional telecommunications with Internet-based voice and data services." The first product under the Bobsled by T-Mobile brand is actually a Facebook application that offers free voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) calls, and because this new brand is not limited to just T-Mobile's network or just its devices, anyone can use it.
To do so, you'll need to install the new Bobsled application on Facebook, powered by Vivox. The application lets you make free calls worldwide to any of your Facebook friends. It requires a computer, an Internet connection, and Facebook Chat.
Once downloaded and installed, the application eliminates the need for dialing: you simply click on a friend's name to start a conversation. There's also no need to remember screen names or to input numbers: you just need to know which Facebook friend you want to talk to.
Calls from a PC or Mac to a PC or Mac are free, regardless of where you are connecting from and to. Furthermore, anyone on Facebook can receive a call: you only need to download and install the Bobsled application to place a call.
Bobsled even lets you leave a voice message on your friend's Facebook Wall when they are not available on Facebook Chat. You can choose to make the message public (a recorded Happy Birthday) or private (a personal query you don't want anyone else to hear).
T-Mobile plans to eventually add video chat, the ability to place VoIP calls to mobile and landline US numbers, as well as Bosbsled applications on smartphones and tablets across various mobile platforms, regardless of the carrier that powers the devices.
In other words, T-Mobile is pushing Bobsled as a Facebook-based but network-agnostic voice and video chat service. The company wants to compete head-on with Skype.
"T-Mobile's focus is to innovate to provide simple and affordable communications for customers, enabling people to stay connected wherever they are," Brad Duea, senior vice president of T-Mobile USA, said in a statement. "Bobsled by T-Mobile takes our communications services innovation to a whole new dimension, bringing simple and cost-effective connections to more than half a billion people overnight, allowing people on Facebook to more easily connect and giving voice to social networking. Our new Bobsled brand will evolve in the coming months to provide even more ways for people to connect, no matter what platform, device or mobile provider they are using."