So Where are All the VoIP over 3G iPhone Apps?

Last month at CTIA, AT&T proudly announced that they would now permit VOIP over 3G on the iPhone, and Apple promptly told TiPb (and others) that they were updating their SDK agreement and wanted VOIP over 3G apps in the App Store as quickly as possible, and Skype was all up in the happy as well. And now...

[cricket chirps]

Yeah, we're still waiting. We asked Apple for an update but haven't heard back yet. Hopefully, very soon, we'll be awash in them. In the meantime, let's keep the spotlight shining, and feel free to let Apple, AT&T, Skype, and all the other providers know you want your VoIP over 3G!

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

So Where are All the VoIP over 3G iPhone Apps?


I read somewhere on the Skype forums that Skype was still waiting for some or other documentation to come through first. Soooooooooo waiting for Skype over 3G :-)

Good thing people don't forget these promises !!!
Hope this won't be like the promise of push notifications that took more then a year :s

I'm using skype over 3g but im jailbroken. It works so so. I would like to think that they are working on somethings behind the scenes in the OS for optimization

it's something everybody screamed that they wanted that few people will actually end up using. as websyndicate did, i tried it when my 3g was jailbroken. it was..less than optimal to say the least and i have good 3g service here in cincinnati. some things sound better than they actually are.

We have the largest and fastest 3G network in the world here in Australia (44mbps downlink in the cities, 21mbps everywhere else - 99% of the population have 3G), and being a fairly small population - congestion isn't an issue. VOIP over 3G works, but it totally sux. Like really, unless you can't afford to make a phone call (unlikely if you have an iPhone) then it's not worth the mucking about.
So if it barely works on this type of network, good luck in the US !!!
Infact one carrier launched "Skype" as a service, but had to dump it as a VOIP service - it know works as a regular cell call, only becoming "VOIP" on the backend with the carrier.

I use Skype..and only pay a $20/month phone bill...Quality is so-so, but it works for me

@frog - totally agree. Unless you are sitting right next to a tower, why bother. I would still rely on the wifi version as is sux less, but is still not great.

Some things like Fring do support Voip, but I don't know if they handle it well on 3G.
Skype is bandwidth adaptive. (It will even work on dial-up).
I suspect skype is not doing anything right now because they are still in the trenches fighting an patent war with eBay. Supposedly just settled. Everybody else does skype better than skype does skype right now. It needs push notifications. You have to get that from Im+ or Fring or Numbuzz.
Still it SHOULD be able to keep the bandwidth utilization well within 3G capabilities because according to Skype's page:

How much bandwidth does Skype use while I'm in a call?
Skype automatically selects the best codec depending on the connection between yourself and the person you are calling. On average, Skype uses between 3-16 kilobytes/sec depending on bandwidth available for other party, network conditions in between, callers CPU performance, etc.

My Extreme labs Speed test app shows a pathetic 205 kilobits/second (upload) on 3G in my current location, so divide by 8 to get KiloBytes and you still have almost twice what you need for the clearest conversation skype can support.
There is a large potential for carrier disruption of Voip and/or Skype. They don't even have to block it, just induce enough carrier induced packet loss to make you want to use something else, which by the sheerest coincidence, they happen to sell.

icebike: Speed is fine. It's latency and packet loss that are the problem. No issue browsing a website, but wreaks havoc with VOIP

The issue with VoIP over 3g isn't so much a lack of bandwidth as it is with high latency. Cellular data connections are very bursty with high amounts of latency. Fine for browsing the web, or streaming media where the player has a buffer, but pretty awful for having a real-time duplex conversation. Which is why I really am ok with just using Skype over wifi. I would however very much like an update to the Skype app to get it to work with a bluetooth headset.

Since the latest update from the Skype version on the iPhone i must say the quality is finally just perfect for me here using it over my local wifi, before the last update of Skype it was not such a good call quality.
Now it is good and responsive !

I've been using Skype over 3G ever since it came out (first with VoIPover3G, now with 3G Unrestrictor) and I have to say that quality sucks. I get dropped calls, sound dropping in and out, weird noises during the call, etc. Plus I agree with msatlas about the bluetooth issue. I'm not sure where the limitation is but you have to be able to use it with a bluetooth headset or it's all but useless in the car.

been using siphon on jailbroken 3GS for a while now, why even pay for skype when i can make all my calls for free using siphon, Gizmo and Google Voice, backgrounder means i can do other stuff and still have siphon ring when a call comes through

Frog and Msatlas are right, for most people VoIP over 3g is just going to plan suck. I use Acrobits and iSIP, both good apps for VoIP over WiFi without any of the call quality issues that Fring experiences. Also if you want cheap international calls there is Pingi EZ Dial from iBasis.

In defence of VoIPo3G I have to say that I have been using it since 2006 with very good results on the SIP VoIP end and with mixed ones for Skype.
Usually, once I have made the first call (which takes a while) it's much snappier and quality isn't bad on both ends. As I am using a Touch Pro 2 here it's not even using the SILK codec yet.
I have some other VoIP services to make free calls to Germany and some other places from Japan and those work fine for the most part, some of them sounding just like local calls.
Latency is always a problem, but I found it to be bearable for the most part. The longer I talk though the more it seems it stacks which indicates that Softbank is using TCP somewhere in the path... which of course is deadly when it comes to delay.
All in all I wouldn't want to miss VoIPo3G for those international calls as it allows me to call whomever I want on the go without thinking about greedy Softbank and its horrendous international call fees.

My Skype app gets killed by an incoming "regular" cell phone call on my 3GS. I hope they fix that too.