A free new service lets IT groups quickly set up basic management of corporate and personal mobile devices running Android or Apple iOS.

The cumbersomely named Amtel Free Business Mobile Device Management is a web-based service, with client-side apps for Android and iOS devices. The potential appeal for enterprise IT is that it can apply basic mobile management features quickly, without capital spending or most other operational costs. It lacks a range of more sophisticated features found in the paid service, as well as technical support and maintenance services

The original paid software-as-a-service offering was launched in late 2010, as Amtel expanded from its origins in telecom expense management software in 2001 to also cover managing mobile devices. The company added an array of features over the past year.

Like the premium service, the new free offering can be set up, configured and administered via a web-based management user interface, with distribution of the client software done either internally or via the online software stores for both Android and iOS. There's no limit on the number of devices that can be managed using the free service, but Amtel executives clearly expect it to be used to for basic management of relatively small numbers of devices.

Though the free version has fewer features than the paid version, it still offers a range of features common to many mobile device managers: setting policies for mobile passwords, detecting jailbroken or otherwise compromised devices, collecting statistics and data on devices and usage, discovering and listing downloaded applications, creating and maintaining an inventory of devices, platforms and applications.

The paid version adds a wide range of more advanced features. For example, administrative rights can be subdivided and assigned to lower-level administrators. Applications can be blacklisted or whitelisted or both. Enterprise documents can be stored, grouped and either held for read-only access or pushed out to some or all of the mobile devices.

Also, the paid Amtel service can redirect voice calls to optimise cost savings, such as sending a 411 directory assistance call to a free 411 service. If a user dials an international number, the Amtel client can redirect it to the corporate PBX, having the call go out via a much less costly corporately dialed landline connection.

The paid service also has "group texting" which can replace legacy paging systems, and create a texting option for devices, such as Wi-Fi-only tablets, that lack an SMS listener, according to Amtel.

Both services are the only ones certified under SAS 70 Type II, an audit standard for service organisations' control objectives and activities, according to Amtel.