Vonage releases calling app for iPhone, BlackBerry

Oct 05, 2009 By PETER SVENSSON , AP Technology Writer

(AP) -- Vonage Holdings Corp., a pioneer in Internet-based home phone service, is launching applications for the iPhone and BlackBerry that undercut the international calling rates of major wireless carriers.

The free programs let users place calls that are routed over Vonage's network, at least for the international leg.

When the phones are connected to a hot spot, the calls go over that link, bypassing the wireless carrier entirely. When Wi-Fi is not available, the calls are placed as local wireless calls, using up minutes on the cell phone plan. Vonage then carries the calls to their overseas destination.

The fact that the Vonage app for the can use the cellular voice channel is unusual. Several other voice-over-Internet Protocol, or VoIP, apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch can already place calls over Wi-Fi. But Inc.'s , which is designed to use the cellular network, has not been approved.

Google says its Voice program was rejected by Apple for duplicating the built-in functions of the phone, and the Web search company implies that Apple is protecting the revenue stream of iPhone carriers like AT&T Inc. by not approving the application. Like Vonage's application, Google Voice provides low international calling rates.

Apple says the Google Voice app hasn't been rejected, but is still being reviewed for inclusion in the App Store. The Federal Communications Commission is probing the disagreement.

Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said the company considers Vonage's application to be in the same category as other VoIP apps that have already been approved for the iPhone. She would not elaborate on whether Apple considers there to be significant differences between Vonage's program and Google Voice.

As an example of its prices, Vonage will carry a call to Colombia for 5 cents per minute. AT&T charges $2.19 per minute, or 17 cents per minute if the caller has signed up for a $3.99-per-month international calling plan.

Vonage is the largest of the independent companies that supply their subscribers with adapters that let them plug their home phones into their broadband connections. The new applications for mobile phones have no direct tie to that business - subscribers to Vonage's home phones will pay the same rates as other users of the apps.

A few years ago, Vonage added hundreds of thousands of customers per quarter, thanks in part to its offer of unlimited domestic calling for a flat monthly rate. But growth tapered off as Vonage battled patent lawsuits, while cable and phone companies countered with their own unlimited-calling plans. Subscriber numbers are now slowly shrinking, to about 2.5 million at the end of June. That makes it the eighth-largest landline phone company in the U.S.

Vonage's stock was in danger of being delisted from the New York Stock Exchange for being less than $1, but the shares shot up in late August after the company announced that it would bundle free calls to 60 countries in its new basic home plan. The shares closed Friday at $1.32.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: Verizon launches rewards program with tracking

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Vonage makes free international calls standard

Aug 19, 2009

(AP) -- Unlimited domestic phone calls are nearly standard feature for landline plans these days. Now, Vonage Holdings Corp., which helped pioneer that feature with its Internet phone service, is expanding it to most international ...

Apple denies 'rejecting' Google Voice for iPhone

Aug 22, 2009

(AP) -- Apple Inc. told federal regulators Friday that it blocked the Google Voice program from running on the iPhone because it alters important functions on the device - yet Apple denied that it has rejected Google's application ...

Google says Apple rejected Voice app for iPhone

Sep 18, 2009

(AP) -- Google Inc. said Apple Inc.'s top marketing executive personally told the company that its Google Voice application had been rejected because it duplicates the telephone dialer on the iPhone and could be used as ...

Review: 10 ways to save on calling costs

Sep 30, 2009

(AP) -- The cost of making phone calls has been dropping rapidly in the last few years. If you want take full advantage of that, you'll need to try some new things, because the phone companies aren't going ...

Review: How an iPod can be a poor man's iPhone

Mar 18, 2009

(AP) -- I try to keep a stiff upper lip about not having an iPhone. Just couldn't afford it - not with the $75 a month or so AT&T charges for service on top of the $199 upfront cost for the device.

Recommended for you

Verizon launches rewards program with tracking

Jul 21, 2014

Verizon Wireless is launching a nationwide loyalty program this week for its 100-million-plus subscribers. There's a twist, though: To earn points for every dollar spent, subscribers must consent to have their movements tracked ...

Verizon boosts FiOS uploads to match downloads

Jul 21, 2014

Verizon is boosting the upload speeds of nearly all its FiOS connections to match the download speeds, vastly shortening the time it takes for subscribers to send videos and back up their files online.

The goTenna device pitch is No Service, No Problem

Jul 18, 2014

In the new age of Internet-based crowdfunding with special price offers, where startup teams try to push their product closer and closer to the gate of entry, goTenna's campaign offers a most attractive pitch. ...

Maths can make the internet 5-10 times faster

Jul 17, 2014

Mathematical equations can make Internet communication via computer, mobile phone or satellite many times faster and more secure than today. Results with software developed by researchers from Aalborg University ...

User comments : 0