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AT&T launches iPhone app for VoIP international calls

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
AT&T has launched its own "Voice over IP" app to enable its smartphone customers to place cheap international phone calls, two years after voicing support for Skype and others to similarly use its 3G network to originate internet calls.

The new AT&T Call International app piggybacks on the VoIP network of 8x8, but is novel in that it is branded by the carrier itself. The new service allows users in the US to call international phone numbers through the new app over 3G for far less than placing international calls over AT&T's own network. Internationally, users can access the app to place calls whenever WiFi is available.

AT&T's new VoIP app charges 4 cents per minute to wireline numbers in China, France, Germany and the UK, 8 cents to Mexico and 9 cents to India. When calling wireless numbers, the app bills 21 to 27 cents a minute to call European numbers, while wireless numbers in China and India are priced the same.

In addition to working on all iPhones, AT&T's VoIP app also works on select Android and BlackBerry models (although only iPhones and some Android models can place WiFi calls internationally). The service bills users directly (and separately from their AT&T account), with no contract or minimum calling required.





VoIP takes over

Historically, VoIP services such as Skype and Vonage have offered to bypass traditional phone networks, offering their users a much cheaper option for placing international calls that use the Internet rather than conventional telephone links.

In October of 2009, AT&T announced that it was reconsidering its opposition to VoIP apps allowing smartphone users to place Internet calls over 3G; prior to that, services such as Skype were restricted to only work over WiFi.

AT&T president and chief executive Ralph de la Vega stated at the time that "iPhone is an innovative device that dramatically changed the game in wireless when it was introduced just two years ago. Todays decision was made after evaluating our customers expectations and use of the device compared to dozens of others we offer."

VoIP and iOS

Apple subsequently added support for iOS apps to place VoIP calls over 3G mobile networks in January 2010.

Six months later, in iOS 4, Apple added support for its own VoIP service called FaceTime, although the new service, then exclusive to iPhone 4, was billed as a video conferencing app and offered no option to place audio-only calls, apparently in an effort to avoid antagonizing its carrier partners.

Apple has since added FaceTime support to iPod touch, iPad 2 and Mac desktop users, allowing users to place free video calls over the Internet without any underlying telephone service.

This fall, Apple added iMessage to iOS 5, a feature that similarly replaces SMS/MMS services with Internet-based communications that mobile carriers can't charge extra for, an extension of the iPhone's strategy of promoting free, Internet-based messaging such as rich email over fee-based communications proprietary to the mobile carriers.

iMessages similarly works on iPod touch and iPad devices, and Apple is expected to add support for iMessage communications in Mac OS X for desktop users.
post #2 of 11
How about central and south america? That is what I need. Of course I already use Skype over wifi so I guess there is not much difference. I just wish I could copy and paste phone numbers into the Skype dialer. What a hassle it is to have to retype them.

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post #3 of 11
Look up the AT&T VoIP rates yourself.

I note that Google Voice VoIP rates appear to be about half of what AT&T is charging for their VoIP.

You can also use Google Voice from your computer (via the Google Talk web plug-in for Gmail) as well as non-phone devices such as an iPod touch or iPad (using the free Talkatone app).
post #4 of 11
I'm an International airline pilot and being away from my wife and young children is very difficult. I'm always looking for the best and cheapest way to communicate with them while on the road. I'm in Narita, Japan as I write this. I still use Skype for calling most people, but the call quality is lacking and it is blocked in some countries (China). A friend told me about Viber. Hands down, the call quality puts any landline and Skype to shame. I installed the app on my phone and the wife's phone and we talk for free as long as we want. This AT&T app is just not looking interesting to me. I'll pass on this one.
post #5 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by cvaldes1831 View Post

Look up the AT&T VoIP rates yourself.

I note that Google Voice VoIP rates appear to be about half of what AT&T is charging for their VoIP.

You can also use Google Voice from your computer (via the Google Talk web plug-in for Gmail) as well as non-phone devices such as an iPod touch or iPad (using the free Talkatone app).

Google Voice is the best thing going right now. Love it.

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

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post #6 of 11
I'm still a bit confused about the disparity for calls outgoing from the US, and destined for wireline vs wireless. Is this due to the fact that callers are billed when calling wireless numbers in other countries (which is the opposite of the US) ?
post #7 of 11
Only six comments?! This is far more important than the potential of doctors et al. using an iPad 3. First, there is no such thing. Second, international calling profits being dramatically reduced by a company that takes money on such callings is astounding!
post #8 of 11
Google Voice is by far the best. It costs less than half what greedy AT&T is charging.
post #9 of 11
i prefer Yahoo Voice. I only pay $2.50 a month for a valid phone number so people can call me and if i dont pick up, they can leave a voice mail in my yahoo mailbox. Calls to cell phones are real cheap with Yahoo voice out. Like 1.7 cents a minute for US calls....and the lowest rates I have seen for international calls.

Google Voice is free....but will start charging like yahoo in January. I do like that google voice not only allows people to leave an audio message in your gmail box....but it also TRANSCRIBES the voice mail! Its pretty accurate too. However, sometimes it will turn to gibberish if the person leaving the message doesnt speak clearly.

There is also an app called Whistle Phone....which gives you a number for free AND the ability to make free calls anywhere in the US. Calls can only be 20 minutes long....and u do have to listen to a quick ad before calls...but its good in a pinch. People can't leave voice messages tho. Thats why i got yahoo.

Of course there is skype. Which i do like for skyoe to skyoe calls. Lots of people around the world use it, so it's great for international connections. And unlike Apple's facetime, does allow audio only calls. Calls to cell phones using skype are more expensive than Yahoo tho...so i only use skype for skype to skype calls.

Lastly facetime is great since i am a mac user....but as popular as Apple is....many of my friends still dpnt own an iphone or ipad. Hopefully soon. Same for imessage.

I have an unlocked iphone, since i travel alot and dont like being locked into expensive contracts. I have found that VOIP apps on my iphone, ipod and ipad are all i need.
post #10 of 11
...And the reviews in the App Store has people saying they are having issues with the software to start with. Guess they were bleeding a bit too much so wanted to get on the bandwagon and collect some of that cash for themselves...

Tom
post #11 of 11
Hello apple insider, certainly AT&T was thinking of stepping into the VoIP market since very long. The Skype was actually the leader working on major 3G network of At&T, but this time At&T decided to go solo. Thanks for posting anyways.
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