Vonage now offers an unlimited $24.99-a-month international calling plan for iPhone and BlackBerry users, the company said Wednesday. The new "Vonage World Mobile" VoIP service competes with a $12.95-a-month service from Skype.
Vonage, however, offers service 60 countries, while Skype offers unlimited service to only 40 countries. Current Vonage customers may qualify for a $10-a-month discount on the mobile service.
Vonage World Mobile is intended to give customers a lower-cost option for calling landline and mobile phones internationally. It is provided using a free app for the iPhone and iPod Touch, available at the usual place. BlackBerry users will find their version at BlackBerry App World.
Vonage World Mobile software is available to iPhone users over cellular and Wi-Fi data connections, while Blackberry uses only cellular. The company first released an international calling app for iPhone and BlackBerry in October; today's announcement adds a subscription option.
The use of cellular data is possible because AT&T, the exclusive iPhone carrier in the U.S., in October changed its rule prohibiting VoIP over its cellular data network. This has been seen as reflecting the carrier's acceptance that VoIP calling will in many cases supplant its traditional voice network.
My take: By virtue of its strong brand, Skype remains the default choice for many when it comes to Internet telephony, particularly for International calling. The Vonage offer will be attractive to some new customers, existing Vonage customers, and those needing to call countries that Vonage covers but Skype does not.
The release of the Nexus One smartphone, expected early next year, should draw more attention to VoIP, as the Googlephone makes voice calls using VoIP rather than a wireless voice network, users report.