Nanu mobile app offers free calls but there is a catch

Singapore-based startup Gentay Communications launched a mobile app called nanu, vowing to eliminate phone bills forever.

Developed by the father-and-son team of Martin and Daniel Nygate, nanu takes advantage of ultra-low bandwidth technology that lets uses make quality calls even when only 2G connection is available. In fact, compared to Skype, the app requires about 80 percent less bandwidth to use.

At the same time, nanu also boasts of clearer calls because it does not rely solely on P2P networks which degrades quality as the call goes through different POPs before getting to the recipient. Instead, it runs on a different architecture that routes calls either through dedicated lines or P2P networks. Gentay Communications doesn't want to elaborate on their technology but says it was developed originally for use with ship-to-shore voice communications that the maritime industry uses.

"Our mission is to eliminate the cost of phone calls, so our target market is anyone who doesn't want to pay hefty phone bills anymore. We want to give free unlimited calls to everyone, we grow and start generating ad revenue, our mission is to expand that to free calls everywhere," explained Nygate.

Revenues are collected by playing advertisements over a ringtone as a call is being connected. Once the recipient picks up, the advertisement stops so it doesn't interfere with the call. A banner ad is also displayed on the caller's screen which will redirect to a certain URL when chosen. The average time before calls are connected is seven seconds.

To help promote the app, Gentay Communications will be providing unlimited free calls between parties who are both nanu users. Calls to non-nanu users and landline numbers will also be free for the first 15 minutes but this promotion will only be available to the first one million users to download the app.

In theory, calls can be made to anywhere in the world, even when both parties do not use nanu. At the moment, however, the free minutes to landline numbers can only be used for 73 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, India, China and Australia.

Nygate also shares that only once a million subscribers have been reached will nanu generate ad revenue. Gentay Communications hopes to hit that target by the end of September, moving on to 15 million by the end of the year. By December 2015, the company hopes to have 150 million subscribers using nanu.

The app is only available on Android at the moment but nanu for iOS is in development and should be available in the next few months. Other platforms will follow.

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