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January 28, 2010

You can soon VoIP on the iPhone!

That actually sounds kind of kinky, doesn't it?

According to Mashable, Apple will soon be allowing VoIP calls to be made over the 3G data networks that cellular companies have.  (For those who don't know, "VoIP" is "Voice Over Internet Protocol," or basically "Phone on the Internet").  Right now, you can download Skype or some other VoIP apps, but they only work on Wi-Fi.  If you're out on the street, you can't use it.

But soon, you will be able to.

First, I assume that this will be available everywhere that iPhones work, not just in the US.  But I don't know for sure.  Secondly, this will be a great boon to iPhone users all over, though it won't be as much for me as I would like.

Let me explain.

Last year, when I traveled home to Iowa for Christmas, we had some of the worst weather I've seen in a long time.  My plane was massively delayed (I was beginning to wonder if I was getting out).  The wife was supposed to come get me in Seattle, but the weather was so bad here that she couldn't make it out of town.  So she set up a hotel room for me in Seattle.  We did all this via text message, and thank God Telus didn't charge us for the text messages to each other (they shouldn't, since we're on the same plan, but Fido did charge me "roaming" for the text messages I sent her this year).  We had a flurry of texts back and forth.  I finally made it home, after the trip from Hell.

So this year, we both have iPhones, and I figured "Hey, airports usually have wi-fi, don't they?  Maybe I can call her using Skype if anything happens, and we won't get charged enough to fund the federal government in roaming charges!"  So I downloaded Skype to my phone, set up an account, and was ready to rock and roll.

Then I discovered that airports generally *don't* have Wi-Fi.  And when they did, my phone wouldn't connect to it.  Talk about irritating!

So this new 3G thing will actually benefit me, no?  No, not really, unless I want to call my parents from the streets of Vancouver (which I could, so it's not like it's a total waste).  Data roaming charges (charges for when you use the 3G network outside of your calling area) can be quite high, much higher than the per/minute rate of calling (and much higher than the cost of texting while roaming, too, which cost me 75 cents a piece).  There's no indication in the article how much data streaming would be required to use a VoIP service, but I'll bet you it's pretty high.  Even if it's not, I'm sure it's more than just the cost of talking.

So while this is definitely cool news for most iPhone users, and I am happy that Apple has relented in this, it's not making me jump for joy like it should most others.  For me, texting is still the better option.


  1. It actually sounds like a great enhancement, but like you've pointed out, there are always drawbacks and loopholes. And of course, you can't forget, with most new added features, there's usually a way to get an extra few dollars out of us, isn't there.

  2. Admittedly, not everybody is in my situation. :) It's actually really great if you're in your local area.

    Of course, with Skype (don't know the other VoIP services) you either have to call another Skype user or you have to pay really cheap rates (or buy a subscription, like I did). I think it's 2 cents a minute from Canada to the US to call a regular phone.

  3. That really doesn't sound too bad then, if you are in your local area - unfortunate for me, the Skype users in my contact list are pretty slim.

  4. I remember now. It's 2.4 cents a minute. :) But yeah, it's pretty good overall. Just as long as you're not roaming.


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