Pal Luca broke the news about Tiscali, a broadband and MVNO operator whose deployment of the new WiPhone app, not to be confused with iPhone, that enables their users to make WiFi phone calls ala client Truphone.
I keep hearing rumors of other GSM players entering the WiFi phone call market just as we have heard about Vonage and their efforts on the iPhone that caused a rise of their share price a few weeks back. This is not an aberration, but the harbinger of things to come. Put simply, mobile operators can make more money if they offload calling to WiFi as the call gets on their network either via their own or some the broadband network of someone else.
For Tiscali, an MVNO, this is also a defensive move against Femtocells, something MVNO's aren't likely to invest in for a while. Who needs another piece of hardware when you can use already existing, low cost infrastructure, plus proven software in the middle (WiFi) that lets you make calls. Now, before people start moaning about things like latency and garbled calls, let me point out that in Europe, the broadband is just better than we have here in the USA at lower bit rates. As someone who has used Truphone in multiple countries over WiFi via free hotspots, paid bandwidth in hotels, via Boingo and even in my winemaker friend's country house, making phone calls on a smartphone over WiFi works.
By moving in this direction, Tiscali becomes a carrier which has broken ranks with the traditional GSM mindset, just as a few operators such as T-Mobile and Orange have with their UMA play and as Three has with their Skype phone from INQ. In Belgium, MVNO, Cherry has also announced their intention to be a converged player as well in the mobile space.
Update-seems Dean Elwood at VoIPUser has a similar take. His last line sums up why WiFi calling will have its day.