Facebook’s new Messenger app for Apple mobile devices enables voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP) phone calls, which use data instead of minutes in a mobile plan. This feature comes with the new Messenger app, available only to Canadians, who will be the guinea pigs for this new option. Currently limited to the iOS version of the app, Facebook hopes to roll out the feature to Android users and other territories soon enough.
By pressing the “i” button in the top right corner of any chat, users can start up a call with their friend. Incoming calls come through as push notifications outside the app and, when inside, show up as a fully-fledged alternative to a network carrier call.
With the introduction of VoIP and SMS functionality on the horizon, will Facebook’s apparent transformation into a global telecom subject them to regulation from the CRTC? The broadcast and telecom regulator doesn’t currently regulate Internet services, but they have been cracking down on VoIP services that don’t comply with Canada’s 9-1-1 laws after a high profile death of a Calgary baby in 2008. How long before somebody’s house burns down while they are busy poking their local fire department’s fan page? Are you planning on being every phone, Facebook? We’ve got our eye on you, Facebook!