Remember when apps like Skype were blocked? That was more than two years ago, and at the time, some speculated the reason for blocking was due in part to carriers' desires to offer their own branded VoIP apps rather than make it easier for competitors.
Yesterday, AT&T introduced AT&T Call International, a free mobile VoIP app that provides low rates for international long-distance calling. Developed with 8x8 Inc., the app allows customers to make calls from the U.S. to international numbers, and when abroad, customers can get low rates using the app over Wi-Fi.
"AT&T realized that if you can't beat 'em, you join 'em," said Brian Partridge, research vice president at Yankee Group. "After initially blocking over-the-top VoIP applications such as Skype and Vonage, AT&T relented and began allowing them on its network back in 2009.
"Today, AT&T has taken a smart step to create its own branded international calling smartphone app and made it available for free," Partridge added. "Will it take off? That depends on a number of factors, including usability, price, and the ease with which smartphone customers can find and buy it."
AT&T said the app provides simple, step-by-step instructions to establish an AT&T Call International account. Once established, customers can immediately make international calls through the app by either dialing directly or by accessing their existing contacts list. All calls are billed directly to the customer's credit card.
AT&T Call International is currently available for iPhone, BlackBerry and Android smartphones. Wi-Fi roaming is available only on iPhone and Android devices.