I have been working with the folks over at ImmersiFind on a mobile voip project for the past 8 months, the invite-only beta went live yesterday in the iTunes app store. It’s called “gabpark”. It’s been tested on the iPhone, iPod Touch and the iPad. In my humble opinion, it has some cool features that many should find quite useful.
The service is free during the invite-only beta period. I have a few invites for bloggers who are interested in getting a sneak peak, just email erik AT sipthat.com.
iTunes Store Overview
Gabpark is a new fun way to communicate with your family, friends and colleagues. Gabpark allows you to make and receive calls phone calls over 3G (Cellular Data Network) or WiFi. It works on both iPhone, iPod and iPad devices running OS 3 or higher. Never pay for roaming charges again!
Turn your iPod Touch or iPad into a phone in just a couple of minutes! Use the Follow-me feature and gabpark will call up to 3 of your alternate numbers at the same time! Use your cellular phone, home and work numbers or any 3 numbers in North America! Gabpark Voicemail allows you to see and hear your voicemail without having to call in for messages! Share your voicemails with anyone!
Change your Caller ID to match any of your existing numbers!
Gabpark is currently available via invitation. Invite up to 50 of your friends right from the app so they can enjoy Gabpark FREE calling in North America!
• Free calling in US and Canada!
• Get a phone number nearly anywhere in Canada or the US
• Receive calls even when the gabpark app is not running.
• Choose up to 3 follow-me numbers and gabpark will call them all at the same time.
• Gabpark voicemail can be seen and heard right in the app.
• Share voicemail with friends and family at the click of a button.
• Voicemail to email.
• Record up to 9 new voicemail greetings right from the app.
• Record calls from any phone you receive a gabpark call on.
• Blacklist. Add unwanted callers to your Blacklist and when they call your gabpark number they will hear a busy tone or a “This line has been disconnected..” message.
• Integrated with your contacts.
• See recent calls.
• Calls do not count towards your cellular calling plan.
• Compatible with iPhone, iPhone 3GS, iPod Touch and iPad.
• Built-in VoIP connection test.
Free calling requires free and instant registration to protect against abuse.
*IMPORTANT VOIP OVER CELLULAR / 3G NOTICE*
Because some mobile network operators may prohibit or restrict the use of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) functionality over their network, such as the use of IP telephony over a cellular network, and may also impose additional fees, or other charges in connection with VoIP. As the user of this application, you agree to learn and abide by your cellular carrier’s network restrictions. Immersifind Inc. will not be held liable for any charges, fees or liability imposed by your carrier(s) for the use of VoIP over cellular networks.
*IMPORTANT Non-Availability of Traditional 911 or E911 Service*
END USER MUST MAINTAIN AN ALTERNATE MEANS OF REQUESTING EMERGENCY SERVICES. END USER acknowledges and understands that COMPANY does NOT support traditional 911 and E911 access to emergency services. END USER must maintain an alternate means of accessing traditional emergency response services.
UPDATE: It’s looking good folks!
In the agreement…
3.3. 23 Because some mobile network operators may prohibit or restrict the use of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) functionality over their network, such as the use of VoIP telephony over a cellular network, and may also impose additional fees, or other charges in connection with VoIP, You agree to inform end-users, prior to purchase, to check the terms of agreement with their operator, for example, by providing such notice in the marketing text that You provide accompanying Your Application on the App Store.
9. Third Party Terms of Agreement: You must state in the EULA that the end-user must comply with applicable third party terms of agreement when using Your Application, e.g., if You have a VoIP application, then the end-user must not be in violation of their wireless data service agreement when using Your Application.
Now that we know VoIP over the cellular data network is allowed, and ATT has said they will support it, and ATT has a cheap unlimited data plan (Listen up Rogers, Telus, Bell!), the iPad and iPhone has just become something I think we should be excited about.
Apparently the new iPhone dev agreement has officially been modified allowing for VoIP over the cellular data networks. Trying to confirm that myself.
If this is the case, the iPad and iPhone just got a whole lot more interesting.
Looks like the new iPad will come with unlocked GSM + WiFi but no actual phone.
Apparently all iPhone apps from the app store will work and the device also supports Bluetooth. This begs the question, will the VoIP apps from the app store function on this device? Sounds like they should.
The device will sell for $499 for WiFi and $629 for WiFi + GSM.
Ok, so VoIP over 3G isn’t quite there, but 4G is not far off.
It would seem that Apple believes 4G is ready for voice and video calling in Korea at least. According to a Korean blog, Korea Telecom will be deploying the iPhone 4G in June of this year. The new device will sport forward and rearward facing (5-megapixel) cameras, an OLED screen and a video calling service.
It occurs to me that with all that is going on in the mobile space, at least one of the providers would have come to market with a data only + VoIP offer. Well, there is still a chance that might happen, in Canada. If we look at the recent spectrum auction it is plain to see the potential players who could bring the Google Nexus One (N1) to market in Canada. It seems that there are only 2 possibilities; DAVE wireless or Wynd Mobile.
Since Wynd has launched there has been no mention of the N1, so maybe it’s DAVE wireless that is bringing the N1 to market in Canada? Will we see a data only offer? One can only hope.
I am an iPhone 3GS user now, but I would jump ship in a heartbeat if I could get decent coverage at a decent price with 3.5/4G + VoIP service of my choice. This seems like such a no-brainer and could seriously disrupt the industry. Let’s get on with it already!
Yes, they will.
1. Rogers has cornered the GSM market in Canada and is the only carrier to offer the iPhone, but that is about to change. Telus and Bell have tag-teamed to erect an HSPA+ network and will be offering the iPhone as early as next month. Just in time for the holiday season and with plenty of time to ready themselves for the 2010 games in Vancouver.
It’s true that 3G is not yet ubiquitous which mean VoIP over 3G is not something that will drive massive adoption in the near term, but it will be enough of a detractor for a good percentage of the users to not choose Rogers if Telus and Bell allow VoIP over 3G on the iPhone.
2. Rumors have it that Globalive / Wind Mobile is hot on trail of Rogers and will be completing Phase 1 of their network build-out as early as this spring. They too might be carrying the iPhone. None of the big three want to get beat out by the new guy on the block.
3. Other devices on the Rogers network already have apps that deliver VoIP over 3G service. It’s not the network that is the limiting factor here, it’s the Apple app store and the contract they have with the carriers representing the iPhone.
4. Net Neutrality. I am sure that Rogers would like to avoid getting dragged into the same kind of kerfuffle the FCC has been crowing about in the US. The Internet does not stop at the desktop, so why should those it be left out of such conversations, it simply shouldn’t.
It’s should also be clear that Apple would prefer it if the carriers would allow VoIP over 3G. It would mean more devices sold and more interesting apps in the app store. I just can;t see Apple saying “no thanks” to VoIP related (product and service) revenue in the app store.
I think the question is more a matter of ‘when’ as opposed to ‘if’. Hopefully it’s soon!
It’s been a while since I spent any amount of time thinking about the endpoint world but some recent developments around mobile SIP clients and softphones have my attention once again. The question is, “Are we ready for a 3G softphone?”
With 3G comes plenty of bandwidth and powerful mobile devices. The likelihood that carriers will want to cannibalize their own revenue in order to deliver VoIP on the cheap and/or free is… low, to say the least. With that being said there are rumblings that this is in fact what they are planning.
We all know that Rogers is bringing the iPhone to Canada on a 3G network. The fact that there is now an SDK for iPhone will make it rather easy to create a SIP client for the iPhone. On its own, the iPhone does not have enough of a subscriber base to drive mass adoption of a mobile SIP softphone, but it will certainly help.
I know the boys at Counterpath (Congratulations Donovan!) have been busy with FMC and it would seem as though they would be the carrier’s choice for any mobile 3G SIP softphone solution. Although, It’s not clear if a mobile SIP SDK is just a component within their enterprise offering?
So, what other 3G mobile SIP softphone solutions are there out there and which would qualify as a valid choice for a carrier?
If we search for “mobile sip” we see Nokia leading the charge. Not surprising, Nokia has been the predominant player in embedded SIP clients for years now. They have a bit of a leg up there, owning the device doesn’t hurt, or does it? From a carrier’s perspective one would think that getting further into bed with the device vendor could be troublesome but I guess it could work the other way as well.
Something else that’s interesting is that Google’s Android does not have a SIP stack. Not surprising when you think of it. After all Google Talk is still very limited in it’s telephony abilities. One would expect that with the introduction of Android, this would change.
Truphone would likely be a good choice but they are not a softphone vendor, they are a service provider, plus they currently only support Nokia devices. Although I know they have a version working on iPhone already and it would not surprise me if they were working on something for RIM devices.
So who’s left?
Om broke a story this morning that rings a familiar bell for me. Over the past couple of years I have been approached by some of these incumbents that Om refers to in his story to do just what he is implying.
I can think of at least least 2 serious softphone contenders ( Truphone and Counterpath ) for this type of project that could leap frog Skype in no time. Marry that with a solid SIP application server ( Broadsoft or the like) which many, if not all, of these carriers already have in their networks, and you have a winner.
I have been waiting for this for a while. If it's real it could mean a real paradigm shift for IP communications in general. These players have been around for many years and own much of the infrastructure and vendor relationships. The incumbents still have the power to dictate what gets deployed on their networks. They have huge leverage with the vendors in terms of what gets bundled on what phones/devices.
This is exactly what the industry needs and you could be certain it wold end up on the new iPhone rather quickly.
Sadly, the telcos of old have a great deal of "old thinkers" and will likely screw this up royally with their bureaucracy and paranoia.