Feeds

BT's shock new wheeze: Make phone calls from smartphones

There is method in this VoIP app madness

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

BT customers can now make calls over the internet from a smartphone app and have the cost added to their landline bill.

The national telco's SmartTalk service is available for iOS and Android, and lets a landline customer register up to four users who can make calls that are added to that landline's bill, or deducted from the bundled minutes, just as long as they've got a decent Wi-Fi or mobile data connection to carry the call.

The voice-over-internet app is free to BT customers, but only supports outgoing calls. However, the calls are billed and routed as though they originated at the landline address, which could have free calls to other UK landlines (depending on the BT calling plan), and that's likely to be the biggest draw.

Online chat service Skype and its VoIP ilk provide free calls to other users of the same service, and can receive calls too. But calls to landlines cost money and require something akin to SkypeOut credit for connection and per-minute charges, for those not wanting to take out a monthly subscription.

Having the cost added to the existing phone bill will be attractive, and with the landline owner being able to restrict the numbers called (thus locking out premium-rate lines) one can imagine parents offering to add their children's phones to the supported list.

Whether the children, or indeed the adults, make use of it is another matter as they're likely to be more concerned about their data usage than voice minutes. Those with the latest smartphones tend to be locked into contracts that already offer an unfeasibly generous quantity of minutes, and Wi-Fi is far from ubiquitous even with BT's public wireless connectivity for those who also get their broadband from the former monopoly, so it's unlike the SmartTalk servers will be immediately overloaded.

But BT had to offer a service of this kind and join the throng in attacking mobile revenues: Virgin Media has announced much the same thing with SmartCall, although Virgin is still at the "taking names" stage but it should go live soon. Neither product is going to change the world but both reflect the changing nature of the industry, and the diminishing role of voice within it. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Same old iPad? NO. The new 'soft SIMs' are BIG NEWS
AppleSIM 'ware to allow quick switch of carriers
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Brits: Google, can you scrape 60k pages from web, pleeease
Hey, c'mon Choc Factory, it's our 'right to be forgotten'
Of COURSE Stephen Elop's to blame for Nokia woes, says author
'Google did have some unique propositions for Nokia'
It's even GRIMMER up North after MEGA SKY BROADBAND OUTAGE
By 'eck! Eccles cake production thrown into jeopardy
Mobile coverage on trains really is pants
You thought it was just *insert your provider here*, but now we have numbers
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.