Cherry is going to have T-Mobile and AT&T more than a little worried. The Belgium-based startup modifies your GSM smartphone to allow it to switch seamlessly between WiFi and cell network calling, all at ultra cheap “WiFi calling” rates.
Cherry takes your smartphone (currently just on the Nokia E-series, but coming to iPhone, WinMo, and Android) and installs software in the background that lets your calls roam between your home network and their cell network without any call interruption. No, they didn’t buy any spectrum; they’re an MVNO, so they’re just piggybacking on existing networks.
The “handover” process between networks is the company’s secret sauce, but it’s not entirely clear how they’ll make that happen with a locked-down device like Apple’s iPhone. For one thing, it’ll require background processing; if it’s a traditional App Store app, it’ll have the ability to make the iPhone a WiFi-only calling device (if you remove the SIM card) which is one of Apple’s cardinal app sins.
So far, the company says it will be selling pre-packaged Nokia E-series phones that work on the Cherry network out of the box, but no word as to when sales will begin, or how much the unlocked phones will cost. Check out TechCrunch’s video below with Cherry’s CEO, Bernard Noel De Burlin.