If you've ever tried to juggle two phone numbers, say a personal line and a professional line, you know how difficult and clumsy it can be. You could carry two phones around, one for your work line and one for your personal life, or use a call forwarding service like Google Voice. Neither option is particularly elegant: managing two phones and lines is awkward and expensive, and Google Voice can't easily be used with your phone's native dialer or messaging apps.
Enter Mast Mobile, a new MVNO launching in New York City today. Mast offers a different approach to managing a personal and work line: it puts both numbers on the same phone. All of the management and switching between the two lines is done on the network side, so there's no swapping SIM cards or call forwarding hassles. The best part of Mast may be that you can use the iPhone's native dialer and messaging apps with either phone number, so you're not required to jump through hoops to send a text message or place a phone call. The two lines can be from completely different areas, so a local number can be used for work, while the number you've had for a decade can be ported over for your personal line.
Contacts can easily be assigned to the work or personal numberMast offers an app for the iPhone (an Android version is due in the coming months) that lets you assign contacts to your "work" or "personal" number. Once a contact is assigned to a number, any calls or messages sent to or received from that contact will go through the specific line that's been assigned to it. It's even possible to see which number is being called through the iPhone's native caller ID when a call comes in. The app also offers visual voicemail access (you can set separate messages for each line) and do not disturb features, so either line can be routed directly to voicemail during set times. Mast also offers browser-based access and a Chrome app, allowing for calls and messages to be sent and received on a laptop or tablet.
The service currently runs on Sprint's network, though CEO David Messenger says that the company hopes to sign up a second network later this year. Plans cost $50 per month for unlimited calls and messages on both lines, with 1GB of LTE data usage. Additional high-speed data allotments are available for $10 per gigabyte. Mast also plans to offer low international roaming rates. Following the initial launch in New York, the company plans to offer its services across the country. The first 250 customers that sign up today will be able to take advantage of a promotion that takes $30 off the monthly cost of the service, essentially covering the payments on a new iPhone 6S.
Mast is targeting the freelance and gig economy world with its service (hence the strategic choice to launch in New York first, where a lot of freelancers reside), offering a way for small business owners and freelancers to have a professional phone number on their websites and business cards without dealing with the hassle of maintaining two completely separate lines of service. The product and service itself seems like a no-brainer for a freelancer, so the challenge for Mast will be to get the word out there that it exists and is an option. Messenger says the company will be promoting the service at co-working spaces, through online advertising, and by connecting with communities of freelancers.
"Our goal is to break through the perception of a hardware-driven world," says Messenger. "Things can be much more flexible now thanks to software."