O2 has announced a new service called O2 Connect, which will offer iPhone and Android owners the ability to make free voice calls to mobiles and landlines over the internet.
The network is currently piloting the service as an invite-only beta and is likely to launch it officially next year depending on how well it is received by users. Although right now it only works over Wi-Fi connection, O2 has said it will eventually add support for 3G and even make the service available to subscribers of other mobile operators.
O2 is not the first first and certainly won’t be the last company to offer VoIP calls as mobile users become increasingly internet-savvy and look to cut the cost of calling home and abroad using services such as Skype and Google Voice.
"From a traditional telecoms company's view, you either see VoIP as a threat, or you think about how you work with it and take advantage of it," an O2 spokesman told ZDNet UK, suggesting it would rather opt for the latter than watch it customers "go off with other providers".
"It's potentially a great way for us to get ourselves and our brand in front of people who aren't necessarily our customers."
O2 Connect is currently only available on the iPhone and Android. However, the network has confirmed it plans to add support for more devices and platforms down the line when the service begins fully rolling out sometime next year. Some parts of the service will likely be offered as part of existing O2 tariffs, while others may require additional payment.
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