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Mobile Trends 2020

Apple, The iPhone and VoIP over 3G

9 to 5 Mac asks why is Apple blocking VoIP on the iPhone.

The question is asked, because it's a proven fact that on jailbroken iPhones all the apps that can't talk over 3G can talk if you use the right apps that fool the phone and the apps into thinking 3G is WiFi. When you do that, Skype, Fring, SipPhone (or whatever they call it now), Truphone and others all "work." By "work" I am saying you can place and receive calls. But having tried those calls on the iPhone (yes I have jailbroken my iPhone 3GS that I paid full price for and now have a virginal 3GS) the overall experience is not that great. Maybe if I'm standing still the calls sound good, and yes, even some when I'm in motion, but in an era of unlimited calling plans and dial around services like GoogleVoice, Truphone and even the Skype app on Nokia phones, connecting to others over the Net isn't impossible with the right gateways in place.

That said, I fully expect Skype, whose codecs and algorithms enable better quality calling than most to be throwing resources against having a 3G or 4G application out this year once Apple feels the experience is in keeping with what Apple is all about.

In my personal view Apple, like Skype and Truphone are concerned about the quality of the experience. What's good enough for geeks and early adopters is not good enough for them and while the apps, like Truphone on Nokia N and E series phones can make and place calls over 3G, as someone who has used that in various countries, over various operators 3G networks, 3G VoIP is not something I could consistently endorse as it's not really ready for prime time. Back in the day of amateur radio, many a "HAM" operator had all kinds of experimental technology available to them. Some of it eventually got commercialized. Others never made it out of their lab. I see 3G VoIP the same way. Sure there will be something there that works, but with LTE looming and Mobile WiMax growing, calling is going to be IP based, so why worry about something that is only about cheap calling, when you can focus on the future of voice.


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You’re absolutely right that there’s a quality challenge – and you may have noticed the call quality indicator in the latest version of Skype for iPhone. While this is useful for calling over WiFi, it’ll come into its own when 3G calling is enabled – setting expectations for users is going to be very important.

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