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Germans Joyn in the operator-backed rival to Skype

What? I have to know a number, instead of a handle?

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Deutsche Telekom has jumped aboard the Joyn bandwagon, joining Telefonica to extend interoperable VoIP and other IP services to eighty per cent of Germans - and pushing security alongside functionality.

The service is live now, for those who want to download the Joyn Android client from Google Play. An iOS version us promised soon but it's pre-installation which will push the technology into the pockets of punters; and in contrast to the Spanish operators Deutsche Telekom hasn't yet committed to any of those.

Joyn is the operator-backed answer to Skype, offering VoIP calling with additional services including file transfer, video calling and group chat as well as extended messaging. The idea is to provide everything offered by over-the-top players such as Skype, Viber and WhatsApp - but linked to an existing mobile number rather than a created identity, and offering much better security.

"Since the companies offering the service are located in Germany, along with their server facilities, the service conforms to stringent European data-protection regulations," explains the announcement, pointing out that network operators make money by charging for connectivity rather than mining user behaviour and contacts.

"With joyn — in contrast to the procedure with other messengers — a device's address book always remains on the local device."

There is one security concern remaining, as the initial handshaking specified by Joyn isn't encrypted: so Deutsche Telekom reckons the more-paranoid should stick to encrypted wi-fi networks and cellular connections when using Joyn, at least until the summer when it's expecting to have a fix ready.

The Joyn service will be free for all Deutsche Telekom customers until the end of August, after which it remains free for those on flat-rate tariffs. However, importantly, Joyn won't contribute to data caps, so 15MB files and video calls can be happily exchanged at the end of the month as well as the start of it.

Joyn is undeniably a good idea, and it was a good idea back in 2001 when the same concept was called Wireless Village and pushed hard (though not hard enough as it turned out) by Nokia and friends. Last month OpenCloud's Mark Windle pointed out that operators have been working on Joyn for half a decade and are only now offering carbon copies of existing services. Joyn needs critical mass to be successful, and to achieve that a few more Deutsche Telekoms are going to have to come on board before it's too late. ®

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