Common Sense Calling

by Colin Berkshire

Colin here. T-Mobile announced that iPad customers will get 200 MB of free data every month…no strings attached. Apple’s iOS  features audio-only Facetime. And, of course, VoIP services are generally available for about $1.50 a month plus 1-cent per minute.

Let’s do some simple math:

  • 200 MB is 200,000 KB of data per month.
  • A phone call over VoIP uses perhaps 5 KB per second.

That works out to about 600 minutes of VoIP usage.

This means that a T-Mobile customer could switch to using Facetime audio and VoIP service and have a cell phone on their iPad mini for about $5 a month. The truly stupid/silly part is that the audio quality would be better than cell phone encoding.

(footnote: In most of the world 13.5 kilobit codecs are using GSM. The United States uses a special, modified version of GSM which only uses half the normal bitrate, or about 6.5 kilobits. That is why cell phone calls sound so absolutely crappy within the US when compared with most of the rest of the world. We have AT&T to thank for that.)

Yes, I think that voice grade phone service is about to reach the point where telecom companies don’t even care enough about it to protect it. Maybe we are already there.

Telecom folks need to start thinking beyond touch-tone dialing.