More Options for Cell Phone Calling

Facebook recently chose Canadian users to test a new iPhone app– a mobile feature that can be used to make free VoIP phone calls from one Facebook user to another.

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The app works using  voice over internet protocol (VoIP) technology, which means it uses a Wi-Fi connection when available or your cellular data package if you are on the go or in an area where you cannot access Wi-Fi. It does not count as minutes towards your phone calling plan, which could be helpful to many people who have to pay a pretty penny for airtime.

Skype is a pretty popular service that works in a similar manner. Up until now I have only used Skype as a means to speak one-on-one with my plethora of friends who travelled to teach English overseas after graduation (is this some sort of post-grad requirement I missed?), but it seems that technology is making it increasingly easier to communicate for less money each month.

I own a cell phone that has a pretty decent but basic plan. I have unlimited text messaging, free calling evenings and weekends Canada-wide, and no data plan since I no longer was using it at all. When I want to call my family or friends before 7pm on weekdays, it’s usually too expensive to bother. Using Skype or the new Facebook feature would be a great way to save more money on my monthly bills.

Although this could be an option that would allow you to save a lot of money, there are a few issues that arise from it’s use. First of all, it can only be used on an iPhone, though that may change if they decide to fully release the product. There is also the issue of security. By sending information over Facebook, Facebook may conveniently place in the small print the right to own or monitor this information. With Skype there can often be delays and issues with connections which could present an issue for this app as well.

To the frugal people out there who hate paying the sky high fees for Canadian cell phones: there is hope! As the VoIP world continues to grow perhaps we can get away with having very basic or no phone line at all. For now, this is a free way to make some long distance phone calls to friends, family, and significant others.

Would you consider using this app to call others on your cell phone? Would you change your cell phone plan if this became a widely used app?

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Comments

  1. Hmmm I’m not sure if I would. We never seem to go over our minutes and have almost 3000 rollover minutes built up now.

  2. Oh yeah and that’s with us having the smallest minutes plan on AT&T

  3. I don’t have an iPhone and probably wouldn’t like to use FB for calls, but my new cell phone does try calling over VOIP before it accesses the cell networks. It’s working out well so far.

    Wouldn’t you need to add a data plan to do this, though? I don’t think it takes much data but you would be paying for it somehow.

    • That’s great, what type of phone do you have if you don’t mind me asking? And yes you would need a data plan I think. But you could leave it off the plan and pay the flat rate per mb, as long as it didn’t use much data to call with VoIP otherwise it could end up being more costly. I do feel weird about the connection to Facebook, but as long as the user terms were fair and not at all intrusive I think I could be convinced.

  4. I would consider it if I was limited on minutes but I rarely call people as it is. I guess it would depend on quality of the call and whether or not Facebook has the right ot monitor it.

    • Yes definitely. The delays that come with VoIP calling can be annoying. My brother was in Afghanistan for awhile and I found it pretty hard to have a conversation with him because there would be a pause, then both of us would start talking at the same time. And if Facebook monitored it I think I’d be out, just on principle alone. I’m interested to see how it plays out.

  5. I’m going to say No and No. First I don’t own a cell phone (the Mrs. does) as I could care less about them to be honest. The Mrs. makes me take it during bad weather and my work gives me a cell for work only. With Skype being free I use that to contact my friends and family and that’s good enough. As for buying the Iphone for this app, not a chance. Thanks for sharing this though, interesting to learn.

    • It is pretty neat! I wouldn’t buy a new phone just for this either. Skype is great; I haven’t had Skype on my phone itself, just my computer but I think that would be a neat option.

  6. I’m waiting for Google Voice. Its great over a computer connection but not quite launched in Canada yet although I heard they are testing. Either way, if you have free WiFi at work, as well as at home, you really only need the data connection while you are away from those two places. As far as calling over Facebook, I’m not a big fan. I think they’re trying everything to raise their stock value and I wouldn’t be surprised if they play advertisements during your call. Eventually they will charge for it though, just like they do for posting something on a page. You need to pay for your post to reach more of your fans.

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