With the transition from telephone calls using switched circuits to just becoming bits of packet flying around an IP network the latest move from BT Retail is not a complete surprise, but does represent an interesting twist as to how people can manage their telephone bills.
BT SmartTalk is available on the iTunes appstore for the iPhone and selected android devices and once the app is linked to your BT telephone account it allows you to make telephone calls at the same cost as your landline or even part of an inclusive calls bundle. The calls can be across either a WiFi link or your phones mobile data connection, though if using the 4G/3G/GPRS link remember to watch your bundled data allowance on the iPhone or android phone.
"This is a really exciting breakthrough that means you can take your BT calling plan with you and continue saving money when you’re away from home, either in the UK or abroad. BT SmartTalk helps you get even more value from your BT package and much more from your smartphone. At last you can actually call freephone 0800 numbers for free from mobiles and get inclusive 0845 and 0870 calls too. And of course, you can take advantage of BT Wi-fi which gives you access to a massive network of 7.5 million hotspots around the world."John Petter, managing director consumer, BT
Many people already have large inclusive calls bundles on their mobile, but for people with PAYG options, the ability to choose to make a call and pay for it or find a free WiFi hotspot is interesting. It also means we may start to see people making calls on the London Underground via the Virgin Media WiFi network. Up to five users are supported, which should cover the vast majority of households where people own an iPhone.
The BT press release includes some examples of the sorts of savings possible, such as using the app to make calls to 0845 numbers instead of paying your mobiles PAYG rate.
One further aspect of the service is that even when within the home, if one person is using the landline for a call, the app would allow someone else to make a call over the broadband connection. Older models of the home hub supported a hub phone, which was not available on the Home Hub 3 and was a feature some people missed.
Update 1pm: Added a link to the Google Play app version. The software should also work on iPad and other iOS devices, but there is no support from BT. Calls over the SmartTalk app are itemised along with normal calls on the bill and will be listed by the affiliated mobile number.