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Exclusive: VoIP For iPhone Over 3G

Gordon Kelly


Exclusive: VoIP For The iPhone Over 3G

Now here's a turn up for the books...

After chasing a few reader queries about VoIP over 3G - something traditionally feared by mobile operators (unless its 3) - we got this extremely interesting reply from Vopium:

"Although Apple blocks VoIP over the 3G network, Vopium has in fact got round this issue. When using the 3G network the call is signalled over a http ping via 3G or GPRS meaning the call is made as a normal local call to a local access exchange and not as an internet call. The call is then transferred to Vopium's servers where it is terminated in the required country at a local exchange. This enables Vopium to offer uninterrupted coverage and does not tie people to WiFi 'hotspots'. In this instance users may incur a local charge from their operators."

Now I'm tracking down what this 'local charge' may entail, but equally interesting would be whether Apple knows about this loophole and if so has it let through the Vopium app anyway? Should that be the case - expect fireworks. If not, will Vopium be pulled from the App Store in its current form?

We're chasing answers dear readers, but while it's out there go give it a try yourselves...

Update: Here comes some explanation (let me know if you'd like any more questions addressed)

With free calls from Vopium to Vopium and no way of checking who is online, how is this a better solution to Skype or Fring? Currently, Vopium iPhone users are able to see if the call has been free of charge or if they have incurred a local call charge.

Can you roam in and out of WiFi and 3G connections seamlessly? Apple doesn't allow VoIP and IP to be carried over data network, so users are therefore not able to flick between WiFi and 3G when using Vopium.

In related news Vopium has also become the first mobile VoIP application on BlackBerry App World. Off you go RIM fans.


Vopium on iPhone


April 30, 2009, 5:10 am

Any chance someone could put that statement into English for me please?

So...if i'm at home in the UK using wifi with Vopium to call Australia - what happens when I walk out of wifi range?


April 30, 2009, 7:38 am

I think it means that it uses a phonecall, like the mobile version of skype, so would use up your free minutes - which is worth it if your calling abroad


April 30, 2009, 2:09 pm

I *think* it means that Vopium digitises the conversation, but instead of sending it as (easily blockable by network operators) VOIP traffic, it tunnels the traffic inside standard ICMP PING packets (an old trick, and itself easily blockable.) So it uses your 3G or GPRS/EDGE *DATA* connection, not your voice minutes.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I...

At least I *think* that's what Vopium are saying. It sounds like a marketing person made that statement.


April 30, 2009, 3:14 pm

It's no different to the existing international calling card market using a local number as an intermediary.

The only benefit to the user is if the recipient is on VOIP, otherwise additional charges will be levied on top of the local minutes out of bundle.

No big development and not something I imagine the operators will be too fussed about once they realise this is what is happening as the customer will still need to take out a voice contract with them. Not the same threat as no voice contract and making voice calls over an all you can eat data tariff.


April 30, 2009, 3:53 pm

@bigman - I agree. Your just using a data connection to connect to their local server then the rest of the time it's identical to suppliers like 'superline'.

I'm just a tad confused on the usability front. Fring, is a much more user friendly & extensive product IMO and works well. I don't see why anyone would want to use this over Fring?


April 30, 2009, 4:30 pm

@all - PAYG iPhone...


April 30, 2009, 5:01 pm

Ahh, and that clears everything up ;) Hold-on...

So jail broken iPhone PAYG...and? You get cheap calls via your data allowance (which you've already had to shell out for on whatever network you're on or pay per MB).

And free calls from Vopium to Vopium - which is rubbish because there is no way of checking if anyone is on-line at the time of the call. So how is this any better than Skype / Skype out and Fring? I must be missing something here... :)

And as I asked at the top, can you roam in and out of Wifi / 3G connection seamlessly?


April 30, 2009, 5:44 pm

@lifethroughalens - not really, no. PAYG iPhones come with 12 months free unlimited data allowance.

@all - I'll check with Vopium for further explanation


April 30, 2009, 5:48 pm

@lifethroughalens: "And as I asked at the top, can you roam in and out of Wifi / 3G connection seamlessly? "

Can you do this using a web browser? No? Well there's your answer, I'm afraid.


April 30, 2009, 5:53 pm

Xamph - it's possible to roam between Wi-Fi and cellular data. T-Mobile in the US offers just such a service, VoIP in the home and 'normal' phone calls elsewhere with seemless switching. I'm sure there's other, similar, services elsewhere.


April 30, 2009, 5:56 pm

@xamph - well, you can with Fring :)


April 30, 2009, 6:02 pm

@ Gordon- Cheers for looking in to this one. If you've already shelled out &#163350-&#163400 for a PAYG 3G iPhone, I hardly think that the data allowance can be considered 'free'!

Most people with or without iPhones, who would want to use any benefit of this software will most likely be on contracts with data packages...or as you say, included in the iPhone's pricing structure. I just hope that they don't block this service before I get to try it out.


April 30, 2009, 6:22 pm

@lifethroughalens - I'd say with devices like the N96 costing circa &#163600 at launch sim free it's not a bad deal tbh. Shall hopefully hear more soon.

Ramesh Kumar

April 30, 2009, 10:40 pm

If you are using Nokia smart phones like the N series or the E series, you can find Vopium directly under the download! button on the main menu. I think they are the only mobile voip service available from the Nokia. It works very well.


May 1, 2009, 12:08 am

Well ya learn sumthin new everyday! My apogolies. So Fring seamlessly switches between G3 and WiFi as you wander in and out of range of WiFi? V. Cool, didn't know that.


May 1, 2009, 12:11 am

@ Gordon - Fair point!

@ Ramesh Kumar - Yeah, it seems to work well, but you can not tell who's online or not on the Vopium network which is a bit frustrating and you can't incorporate skype contacts into Vopium either. Also 02 or Skype has just started blocking my skype out calls via fring on the 5800 today...Aghhh :(

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