Feeds

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

There is method in this VoIP app madness

The Power of One Infographic

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. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
Google Nest, ARM, Samsung pull out Thread to strangle ZigBee
But there's a flaw in Google's IP-based IoT system
Orange spent weekend spamming customers with TXTs
Zero, not infinity, is the Magic Number customers want
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
Want to beat Verizon's slow Netflix? Get a VPN
Exec finds stream speed climbs when smuggled out
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.