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Truphone brings VoIP to the iPhone

Just don't expect free calls any time soon

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UK VoIP provider Truphone has managed to get its client into the Apple store, though the application won't make calls over the 3G network and calls it does make won't be free.

Truphone, a company with aspirations towards becoming a real telco, demonstrated VoIP running on an iPhone back in September last year, but back then native applications weren't allowed on the iPhone, so it was never actually launched. Now Apple is allowing applications, at least those it approves of, to be downloaded through iTunes, and so Truphone has jumped at the opportunity to enable iPhone users to make cheap calls over Wi-Fi connections.

Cheap, but not free. Truphone has low rates, but its initial offer of free calls to landlines was quietly forgotten some time ago. Nor will iPhone users be able to take advantage of their shiny new 3G connectivity to make VoIP calls - unlike those using Truphone's S60 client, which works great over 3G, the iPhone version is limited to Wi-Fi networks.

This is all proceeding exactly as Steve Jobs outlined when asked if Apple would allow VoIP applications in the Apple store: Working over Wi-Fi is fine, but piggy-backing on the unlimited data available on the 3G network would annoy the operators. And Apple can't afford to annoy the operators, which after all are its primary customers these days.

But where Wi-Fi is available Truphone offers an effective VoIP service, but not one as disruptive as the wannabe operator would like. ®

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