45 Comments

Summary:

Earlier today in response to my post about Nimbuzz, a good pal emailed to find out why the service didn’t work over the iPhone’s 3G connection. After all, a few weeks ago AT&T announced support for VoIP over 3G with much fanfare, a move that was […]

iphone3gvoip.jpgEarlier today in response to my post about Nimbuzz, a good pal emailed to find out why the service didn’t work over the iPhone’s 3G connection. After all, a few weeks ago AT&T announced support for VoIP over 3G with much fanfare, a move that was widely applauded, including kudos from FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.

A month has passed since the decision was announced, and there is still no support for VoIP over 3G. “Apple actually did not approve the 3G calling — so they completely broke their promise of allowing VoIP calls on 3G,” a Nimbuzz spokesperson said.

Even Skype doesn’t work over 3G (see attached screenshot). Truphone is not working either, much like Fring. I am not sure if these services work over 3G data connections in Europe and other parts of the world, but it looks like Apple is the one putting in the roadblock here.

  1. Just remember Om, whenever you want to move to an open platform, Android will be waiting. I’m sure it won’t hold your past pessimism towards it against you.

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    1. I am happy with my Blackberry Tour. I actually don’t need another phone with an incomplete OS: Android is still far from complete and not unique enough for me to switch to it on a full time basis.

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      1. Fair enough.

        But Android is not unique enough? How much more unique could you want? Sounds awkwardly biased.

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      2. Om,

        Didn’t you previously mention that you ditched your Blackberry Tour because of trackball issues and the phone breaking?

        Did you get a replacement or are you learning to live with the device?

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  2. Looks like I am going to have to jailbreak once again. I didn’t after the last update because I heard that they were allowing this. I haven’t had to use it since upgrading but I guess I am off to get the jailbreak. I hate Apple more and more each day and if I didn’t have to pay a high fee to ditch AT&T then I would switch to Verizon and get a Droid. I am going to contact AT&T about this and tell them that if I can’t use Skype over 3G as promised then I consider that breach of contract and want to be let out without a fee. Or at least I will call and tell them that the scumbags at Apple are ruining their reputation and company.

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    1. I hate when people post stupid comments as if they know the law. You bought your iPhone under the previous contractual conditions (because if you hadn’t you would have already returned your phone to buy a Droid) with the full understanding NO VOIP via 3G. There is no breach of contract. Considering you jailbroke your phone previously, a violation of your CONTRACT with AT&T and Apple, really gives you no box to stand on to begin with. Also, you complain about the high price you pay to AT&T, well guess what? You will pay the exact same amount for a Droid. Jesus Christ!

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  3. Why in the world would Apple even care? I can see AT&T having a problem but not Apple unless they just don’t want to deal with Google Voice. Could see Jobs being a little perturbed that Schmidt did this while on the Apple board (kind of sleazy in my opinion).

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    1. My thoughts exactly. Jobs is a scumbag, you can tell by looking at him. F-You Steve Jobs and Apple.

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    2. Just to be clear, the service(s) work just fine over 3G on Symbian devices. So that is a problem that is clearly Apple specific. Anyway let’s see how this gets resolved.

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  4. DistortedLoop Sunday, November 8, 2009

    Maybe the problem is the app developers, like Skype, haven’t released updated versions yet, or the current firmware doesn’t support it and next update will bring it. To parrot others, why would Apple care one way or the other; I’d think they’d lean towards allowing it, since it makes the phone more marketable.

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    1. You hit the nail on the head. It’s the software that isn’t allowing 3G based on the terms the companies had to abide by when submitting the app. These companies have to update their code, and apps have to update in order to make calls over the 3G network. It’s not magic like some people think. Once AT&T allows it, it will take time to roll out.

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      1. As logical as it seems to blame the app designers (like Skype), considering that it really doesn’t make sense for Apple to block the 3g voip, it actually is Apple. According to Skype people:

        “We have a 3G enabled release ready to go any time. We are obliged to sit on it due to Apple, whose developer licence agreement has not been changed to allow VoIP services on mobile connections, talk being cheap. That is what the “contractual restrictions” refers to.

        Once we are allowed by Apple to release a 3G calling app, we will do so right there. You will need to update to the new version via App Store to enable the feature.”

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  5. I believe Skype would have to push out an update to the iPhone app in order for voice to work over 3G. Remember the very first version? They “slipped up” and left 3G voice enabled in the app, which was quickly replaced.

    The iPhone cannot distinguish between VoIP and normal network traffic (the last thing it needs is a full-blown firewall running in the background, eating battery too!), thus, the blocks must be self-imposed by developers. Since Apple is the gatekeeper, it can pull any non-compliant apps from the store.

    Om, the questions to Nimbuzz, Skype etc. should be: have you re-submitted your app with voice enabled over 3G? If so, has Apple denied approval?

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    1. Apple doesn’t allow VoIP over 3G. Apple’s, SDK agreement is still the same, not allowing developers to open VoIP applications on 3G! Does that, means anything to you?

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      1. I’m pretty sure its because of the contract between apple and at&t. At&t opened it up, but still has the same contract with apple which states: no voip on 3g.

        Apple is bound by old at&t policies.. hopefully when(if) contract is renewed.. it will be updated to reflect changes…

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    2. Way too reasonable for conspiracy-heads.

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      1. Ummm, did you read the article??

        Nimbuzz has been updated. Apple rejects because it does VoIP over 3G.

        Apple’s SDK agreement still prohibits these Apps.

        AT&T and most carriers around the world have no problem with VoIP.

        Apple rejected these Apps.

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    3. This is EXACTLY what we need to know instead of just pointing fingers at Apple, like all the cool kids are doing these days. Have all these developers re-submitted their apps to be compatible w/ VOIP over 3G? If so, have they been rejected?

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      1. Yes, as it says in the article, the Apps have been resubmitted and rejected.

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  6. Hi Om, I am an Orange customer in France, and neither Skype nor Truphone work in 3G mode. In fact, the latter seems to bug-out and shuts down unexpectedly.
    I tend to agree with Mike, and I imagine that blocking IP-voice calls is probably part of the deal that Apple has brokered with the various mobile operators. After all, as an operator would you let in a handset supplier who’s device was a threat to your core business, without some sort of relevant initial agreement?
    In any case, I’m sure that continued pressure for new or alternative (i.e. innovative and/or lower-cost) communications services will continue shaping the market.
    With that in mind, I think the the real question is when will operators start thinking of themselves as mobile broadband providers?

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  7. This is the operator (AT&T). Apps or firmware probably need to be updated to reflect new policy.

    Networks in other parts of the world allow VOIP over 3G on iPhone.

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    1. No, you are wrong.

      AT&T now allows Voice Over IP over 3G.
      The Apps have been updated and resubmitted.

      Apple continues to reject Apps with VoIP over 3G.

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      1. Uhm, not so fast – nowhere in the article does it say the apps have been re-submitted, and rejected. Quote: “Apple actually did not approve the 3G calling…”, which is what they have done since day one – not allow 3G calling in their SDK license agreement.

        Do you have any other evidence?

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    2. You’re wrong, at least about what’s going on in Italy. Here, even if you have a no-contract whatsoever iPhone (SIM unlocked), therefore with no middle-man between the user and Apple, you can’t do VoIP, no matter which app you run.
      I paid 700€ for my iPhone 3Gs 32Gb just to avoid mobile operators hassles and what did I get? The same, sucky treatment of all the other fellows which are restrained into a binding contract with mobile operators.

      It’s just Apple’s choice.

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  8. I don’t personally have an IPhone but from what I read, Line2 product from toktumi works on IPhone 3G, Is this not true? They surely promote it at http://www.line2.com, or is this just apple inconsistencies?

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  9. VoIP over 3G is not working in Europe either, same error message. Technically it is not a problem at all (jailbreaked versions of the iPhone show that e.G. Skype it works perfectly fine and with excellent line quality, too!).

    The problem is money and interests of the telcos. Most still see VoIP as a big threat because they will basically loose any long distance calls to the VoIP systems.

    The old story about bandwidth problems and network congestions is also a big shaky: Why would e.g. T-Mobile Germany offer a free to use app with live German TV stations and live German soccer coverage over 3G if it feared the relatively smaller traffic from VoIP over its 3G network?! The ones to blame are the Telcos who, although loving the sales figures and new contracts they make with Apple’s iPhone, still also see it as a big future threat to their traditional business and unless iPhones and iPhone-like smart phones become really commonplace, won’t change their hesitation about the new possibilities these new phones might offer.

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  10. And because of ATA&T and Apple, these services do not work in Australia where we have some great services on the phone.

    I had on my Nokia E71 4000 min of Skype per month as part of my mobile package without having to use the data download limits.

    Now its all gone.

    I still love my iPhone though.

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  11. TO BILL: Hey, did you loose your family fortune buying APPL? Chill out. Apple has brought more to your everyday life than almost any other tech company. Ya, they may have copied PARC but then they brought it out of the lab to the world. As for the iPhone, NO OTHER CARRIER would work with Apple and for their terms. The control you most likely hate provided the ability to bring all the cool things the iPhone has to market. It remains to be seen if Droid will not explode into a collection of fragmented implementations, completely out of control. For me, I hope they do well, competition is good and it will drive Apple development even farther.

    As for VOIP, Skype, for sure, must have to release a new version of their app. Why would you take the time to develop something, on a new platform, that you could not deliver.

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  12. guess what… verizon doesn’t allow voip over 3g either…

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  13. [...] informação foi publicada ainda ontem pelo GigaOM, que, em contato com um porta-voz do Nimbuzz, confirmou que mesmo uma versão [...]

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  14. Several people suggested the article said that apps had been resubmitted, but it’s not actually clear on that point. Om – can you confirm that this was the case? I.e. that Nimbuzz had its app rejected by Apple on the basis that it tried to do VoIP over 3G?

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  15. [...] the FCC, but continue their legacy of very, very slowly rolling out promised features. According to GigaOm, a recent VoIP WiFi app, Nimbuzz was not approved by Apple when they tried to include VoIP over 3G, [...]

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  16. I wonder where the issue really lies, skype cannot be used outside of WiFi, however ((truphone)) works outside of WiFi in 40+ countries by utilizing a local dial-in landline code. Yes it eats away my minutes in the plan, but guess what you can get in Europe an all you can eat landline call. They exist in German, UK and other countries. So why bother with 3G data when you can use the good old switched networks, which I call 3G. Even better inside truphone, skype calling via a landline bridge works. Something I just discovered.

    Still in some countries VoIP over 3G is supported and works, O2 Germany allows this within the actual data calling plan and promotes it to win customers over its competition (on pre and post paid contracts). Some other operators charge Euro 12 – 25 / months (like T-Mobile) for the privilige to use VoIP on 3G in Germany, which is clearly way to high.

    In countries like Greece I had people calling me VOIP over 3G on the national mobile carrier without any issues.

    Will report if I get more data. Still I use mostly truphone due to the most complete product offering in the space and clearest call quality and extend of services like SIM4Travel and now soon to launch Local Anywhere.

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    1. Apple’s SDK Agreement still has the VoIP on mobile connections prohibition in place. Under these terms, Apple are de jure and quite probably de facto rejecting any apps that would, whether such have actually been submitted to them or not.

      I would venture to guess that Apple got caught a little early by AT&T’s announcement, that they would have understandings like they had with T with other operators around the world, and that they need to make changes to their SDK to allow for detecting the operator so it can be determined in comms apps whether VoIP on 3G should be available or not.

      Thus, once they’re done with that, we should be seeing the app developers get a new SDK with a new Agreement to match. And see them submit updated, 3G VoIP-enabled apps to the App store once they’re done with implementing the needed changes to still block VoIP on several hostile operators’ networks.

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  17. Hi,

    I’m thinking that Apple has been studying and working on required changes to the iPhone OS, SDK, and developer agreements in order to elegantly integrate VoIP calls and Google Voice.

    Rather than Apple simply approving VoIP app over 3G functionality, developers will have to make changes to their apps as per new developer guidelines and APIs for VoIP apps. Changes such as possibly mandating a unified call experience with the native dial pad, call history log, voicemail notification hooks, and other new/improved developer APIs. The new changes/APIs will permit the VoIP app to answer incoming VoIP calls even if the designated VoIP app isn’t running. The current situation where VoIP apps/calls suddenly quit when an incoming cellular call come in will be resolved.

    When Apple finally permits VoIP over 3G on iPhone, the experience will be improved. Apple will take their sweet time to get this right and probably announce the VoIP changes at the 2010 World Wide Developer’s conference as part of iPhone OS 4.0. Apple will make everyone wait, just like we all did for cut/copy/paste, MMS, etc. Only then will we see VoIP over 3G and Google Voice on iPhone.

    This is all just a guess on my part. I’d rather this happen sooner than later, but done properly regardless of the timeline.

    -Martin

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  18. i live in finland and it doesnt also work over 3g but my jailbroken phone is working nicely with skype over 3g and also i got 3,6 mb internet connection over 3g and the sound is so clear
    not official but works fine with me and i am also on os 3.0
    i love apple anyway and my iphone is the best thing i ever had

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  19. While I would agree that the service (voice over 3G) is not working currently, it did work for me for about 4 days after the announcement, then magically it disappeared. I suspect that this is more of a call routing issue, verses an application upgrade. As many of us can attest, Skype’s presence and chatting function well over 3 G. I’m thinking that when a VoIP packet hits the 3G net, it immediately gets thrown into a bit buck and an “icmp” packet gets generated with the familiar message that we have all encountered. I’m sure they will turn it back on as soon as they have worked out their (AT&T) new data/minute plans. That’s my two cents…Everyone enjoy your iPhones!

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  20. This was bound to happen. I’m sure there’s something going on between Apple and ATT. I’m sure ATT is happy the option has not been allowed yet. Apple is slow-rolling it.

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  21. This is not true. Skype and fring can be done over 3g. I am an avid nokia user, and I have always used skype and fring over 3g. I thought it would be a good idea to switch over to an iphone, and now, I can only make calls through wifi.

    So, clearly it isnt an AT&T thing… it seems to be an iPhone thing. Screw AT&T for charging such an expensive price for 3g with much restriction.. I wish I could go back to my nokia and get a cheaper data plan… at least with that, i can do voip

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  22. Yet another reason to jail break your iphone. I use Skype over 3g with no issues at all. Now waiting for Skype to offer push services like truphone.

    IMHO, TruPhone is true junk. I installed it and the damm thing would crash with regularity, so back to Skype I went.

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  23. blacksn0w + cydia + 3G Unrestrict = happy days… until they allow it properly.

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  24. [...] On iPhone, Apple Still Not Allowing VoIP Calls over 3G (gigaom.com) [...]

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  25. [...] few weeks ago, we had wondered why there was still no VoIP over 3G connections. More recently, others asked that very question. FCC [...]

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  26. [...] Evidently, some carriers are taking notice. Back in October, AT&T said that it would open its 3G network to VoIP providers on the iPhone. It was good news for Skype given that, according to Shaw, the company’s mobile app has been downloaded more than 10 million times in Apple’s App Store, making the software the leader in VoIP on the iPhone. There’s just one problem: Apple has yet to approve the VoIP-over-3G functionality. [...]

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