Smartphone VoIP clients to bypass high-cost international calling rates have been kicking around for a while, but last week's announcements from 8x8 (News - Alert), AT&T and Vonage have gone to point out that usage continues to rise. The big jaw-dropper was AT&T teaming up with 8x8 to offer AT&T (News - Alert) Call International, a free mobile VoIP app to provide international long distance calling at “low, competitive rates.”
AT&T smartphone customers can use the Call International app to make calls from the U.S. to international numbers. Abroad, customers can use the app over a Wi-Fi connection and get the same low rates. The customer simply downloads the free AT&T Call International app and sets up an account, with all calls billed directly to a credit card.
The AT&T offering is a total white-label deal with 8x8, with 8x8 handling all the infrastructure, billing, and customer service said Huw Rees (News - Alert), VP of Business Development at 8x8.
“The only difference [between this and other 8x8 soft clients] is it has some location determination technology in there as well,” said Rees.
The AT&T-branded soft client looks to see if a call is being made in the U.S. or overseas with a combination of GPS and IP-based location services used to figure out which country the smart phone is in. If it's in the U.S., the call is routed using a circuit-switched network to its destination. Abroad, Wi-Fi is used for both call setup and teardown, as well as the media.
Smartphones supported include iPhone, Android (News - Alert), and Blackberry. The iPhone client was created by 8x8 while the Android and Blackberry clients come from MobileMax.
Over at Vonage, the VoIP provider is bragging about its Time To Call iPhone (News - Alert) application which is picking up positive reviews, a Finalist in the 2011 Mobile Excellence Awards and one of the top 30 apps in iTunes’ “New and Noteworthy” apps list. The app makes calls via 3G in the U.S. and Canada, and on Wi-Fi worldwide. You pay per call and can talk for up to 15 minutes to 190 countries starting as low as 99 cents (plus applicable taxes), with billing done through an iTunes account. Any leftover minutes can be used on the next call.
For example, a 15 minute chunk of minutes to call any number – landline or mobile – in France, Germany, or the UK is $1.99. You don't have to setup an account with Vonage or a mobile carrier, you just download the Time To Call App and buy a 15 minute chunk of talk time via iTunes. To sweeten the deal, you can try out the app and service call quality for free before buying ; Vonage offers the first 15-minute chunk for free with the download of the app.
Doug Mohney is a contributing editor for TMCnet and a 20-year veteran of the ICT space. To read more of his articles, please visit columnist page.
Edited by Jennifer Russell