There’s no doubt that the most popular form of communication these days is messaging, whether it’s text messages (also known as SMS) or messaging and chat applications such as popular services like Hangouts, LINE, and Facebook’s own Messanger, people tend to talk to each other more through messages than they do with voice calls. The interesting thing about that is that many of the most popular messaging services also now allow the capability to make HD voice calls as well as video calls, so you can still talk to people through traditional means and have a face to face conversation.
That particular detail should make it less of a surprise to hear that popular chat application LINE, will be entering into the business of wireless phone service later on this year. Announced today on their blog, LINE has unveiled their plans to become and MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) and offer voice service as a carrier beginning this Summer. At the current time, LINE states they will only be offering their MVNO services in Japan with no mention of expanding outside the country, which somewhat makes sense as LINE is extremely popular in the region. LINE Mobile, as it’s to be called, will be utilizing the towers and network of one of Japan’s biggest wireless carriers, NTT DoCoMo, and will offer plans that start off at just ¥500, which is equal to under $5 USD.
Aside from the extremely low price point for service coverage, LINE Mobile will also allow subscribers of their virtual network unlimited access to LINE’s chat and voice services which includes their end-to-end encryption, as well as unlimited access to Facebook and Twitter. It’s worth noting that LINE states only the main features of those services will be free, which suggests that customers may have to pay more than the listed ¥500 a month if they want unlimited access to a full feature set, although it isn’t mentioned if this is the case or not. They do however mention unlimited browsing and posting on both Facebook and Twitter, so it’s not entirely clear what LINE Mobile will be considering main features, and what it might cost, if anything, to get access to what they don’t consider part of the main features of those apps.