AS END-TO-END ENCRYPTED messaging apps have exploded in popularity, several well-known services have added encrypted calls as well. Why not, right? If it works for text-based chat, voice seems like a natural extension. If only it were that easy.

Encrypting calls has plenty of value, keeping conversations strictly between the two parties. They can circumvent government wiretaps, or criminal snooping. But a host of technical challenges with facilitating the calls themselves has slowed the spread of voice over internet protocol overall. Bandwidth is expensive. Firewalls and network filters make it harder to route data streams. Even basic call quality issues, like delays and echoes, prove difficult to fix. Adding encryption on top of all of this takes additional resources and specialized developers.

All of which has delayed encrypted calling—but not stopped it. And a new groundswell of enthusiasm is bringing more options than ever.

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