We looked at the iPhone mobile VoIP app Viber in two earlier commentaries. In the first, we outlined the ease of use of the service and in the second we looked at the terms of the service and compared it with Skype. Talmon Marco from Viber has posted a response to our second commentary, promising more clarity and no misuse of personal information.
Our current question is what does Skype, Viber or any other mobile VoIP service mean for operators? They still have an iron grip on their networks and in some cases prohibit the use of VoIP applications. This is not expected to change any time soon. However, what will change, at least over the longer term, is the business model.
In the short term, they are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach. While Viber makes VoIP easier, it’s questionable whether this will grow to a large scale. Voice prices are falling; according to our own data the average price per minute at KPN Mobile in the Netherlands was 14.2 cents in Q3 2010, versus 15.3 cents a year earlier. This also gradually reduces the relative attractiveness of mobile VoIP. Furthermore, without a business model, these services may not be around for very long. Even Skype has been unable to build a big presence in the mobile world.
In the past revenues have come mainly from two sources: access (connectivity, line rental, right of use) and usage (voice minutes, MBs, call bundles, SMS), and in the data world these come together in the sale of data bundles. The operators’ role is especially crucial when it comes to connectivity. However, they can still lose ground here: while no figures come to hand, there must be a growing number of iPod touch users who don’t have a subscription and use Wi-Fi for access. This suggests it would be a good idea for operators to expand the Wi-Fi network further and offer subscribers free access.
The biggest changes are on usage, with the communications market becoming highly fragmented. We have moved far beyond just calls (fixed or mobile) and SMS. Chat/IM, e-mail, pinging, MMS, WhatsApp, Nimbuzz, fring, Facebook, Twitter – there are a wide range of choices. What’s bothersome for the operators is that most of these (excluding MMS) are ‘over the top’; there is no special subscription required, only broadband access. In short, market share on the broadly defined communications market is shrinking. At the same time, users still need a data bundle in order to use the apps. Operators have already started cautiously announcing the need to move to ‘tiered pricing’ (the user pays), giving them room to grow. In addition, the number of ‘connected devices’ is increasing quickly.
Whatever happens, free mobile VoIP is a risk to the business model. In an IP world of data packets, the voice minute is losing its raison d’etre. LTE, an all-IP standard, will further contribute to this trend, as will the unending reduction in mobile termination rates. In short, the technical possibilities and financial room exist for newcomers to make calling even cheaper.
The existing operators will fight to keep the call minute. Large bundles are already on the market, mainly in combination with highly subsidized smartphones. Still, over time the voice minute can disappear, and then voice traffic is just another of the many applications on a smartphone – or a tablet or a notebook or TV . . . . .
UK regulator Ofcom has launched a industry-wide monitoring and enforcement programme into the advertisement and sale of international calling cards. This follows research, conducted by Synovate between 26 May and 25 July 2010, showing that consumers are often confused about the charges and terms and conditions of international calling cards. Widely used by the UK’s large immigrant population looking to make cheap overseas calls, more than 5 million UK adults use international calling cards. On average, these users spend GBP 13 a month on calls, creating a market that is estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of pounds a year. The research commissioned by Ofcom in May 2010 investigated the accuracy of information available to consumers in terms of call charges and terms and conditions. It looked at cards supplied by the following international calling card companies: The Post Office, IDT, Tesco, Connect, Nobel, Story, Nowtel, Lycatel and iCard. The research found that 10 percent newly purchased cards could not be activated at all and customer services could not resolve this satisfactorily. Overall actual minutes of calls, once charges have been applied, were 28 percent of advertised minutes and varied significantly between companies and brands. iCard, Lycatel and Nowtel provided a quarter or less of the minutes promised in advertising. The number of actual minutes provided by Connect, The Post Office and Tesco generally matched advertising claims. IDT Crazy exceeded advertised claims and provided more minutes on calls than they had advertised. The research also found that terms and conditions were available and legible at the point of sale for only 5 percent of cards purchased in-store; Posters were the main source of information for consumers but were visible for only 46 percent of cards purchased in-store.
In 2010, Ofcom launched an investigation into advertising and terms and conditions used by Lycatel. In September 2010, Ofcom accepted a written undertaking from Lycatel to make a number of changes to its terms and advertising, ensuring its customers have accurate information when purchasing Lycatel international calling cards. Ofcom is satisfied that Lycatel is now compliant with the undertaking following changes made to its advertisements and its terms and conditions.
UK prepaid phone card only $19.99 – Digitz.com!
by UK prepaid phone card – Digitz MAX
Digitz.com offers the cheapest rates to international calling destinations. We make it easier to connect with your family and friends abroad by taking away the inconvenience of phone cards and you can save up to 90% on domestic and international calls with Digitz.com.
Use the drop down below to find out the best calling rates to the places you call the most.
AT&T 67 Minute Phone Card ($10 Face) calling card USA to USA long distance or local
I’m not sure where the other reviewer is coming from. This is your standard calling card; you use it to make calls to other people; it’s not advertised as a “call-your-house-to-activate-your-heat-tape” card. The rate is $0.15/min, or $0.08/min, using the Amazon price. That’s pretty decent to me.
I give four stars instead of five because of the annoying advertisements you have to listen to everytime you call the access number. If you already paid for the card, you shouldn’t have to listen to advertisements too, but you can bypass these by entering your pin right away, then pressing “1″ to dial the number you’re trying to call.
NO GOOD for remote device control
I bought this specifically to activate the heat-tape on our vacation home roof. However, the 800 number causes a dis-connect after 6 rings (my device needs 8 rings!). I called customer service, and was told that “all AT&T cards disconnect after 6 rings”. Naturally, I can’t return it since I exposed the PIN number.
ZapTel Extreme Talk Time International calling card
Available at external website ZapTel International Phone Cards.
Extremely low per minute rate for extremely long talkers. This card has a variable connect fee charged once per call.
Extremely low rate per minute for extremely long talkers when calling from the USA to any country.
Are you an overseas deal-maker? Got a great overseas friend? Love keeping close to distant family? You found your phone card.
Use a local access number and get the published rates, or use the 800 for one penny a minute more.
Extreme Talk Time International is a connect fee card. This means that each completed call has a one time “connect” fee deducted from the balance on your pin, plus the stated per minute charge. To see the exact amount of this fee for your calling destination, click on the Rate Table tab.
If you like long calls, this may be the cheapest card for your calling pattern. A #1 ZapTel best seller.
Surcharge per call:
10% + variable $0 to $1.00 connect fee based on calling destination; Surcharge applies to total call cost including connection fee
$0.59 charged once after first use and once per month thereafter
1 minute, connect fee is applied at the second minute
Never expires if used at least once every 10 months
Call Origination Allowed:
US-48 States and Canada
Multilingual Technical Support:
Those planning to purchase an iPad could make sizeable savings by using IP telephony solutions with the device, VoIP Services has said. Consumers looking to get hold of Apple’s new tablet computer when it becomes available next month could benefit from the relatively low cost of data plans through VoIP solutions.
In the US, data plan prices currently come in at £9.60 a month for 250MB or £19.21 a month for an unlimited plan, according to the VoIP reviews website.
Seth Roach, founder of VoIP Services, said that this would mean a more expensive wireless plan would be “virtually unneeded” and users would not have to sign a contract.
However, being able to use the iPad to cuts costs will depend on whether Apple agrees to let it be used in conjunction with VoIP provider services.
Mr Roach is optimistic that Apple will enable the iPad to be used with VoIP applications, having recently done the same with the iPhone.
The iPad, introduced by Apple last month, will come in two versions, one with Wi-Fi and one with both Wi-Fi and 3G, giving it the potential to use VoIP solutions.
It is a fact that all VOIP services work out much cheaper than traditional phone line connections. Many people wonder how then to choose cheap VOIP providers. It is a fact that all VOIP services work out much cheaper than traditional phone line connections. Many people wonder how then to choose cheap VOIP providers. Customers are happy as VOIP services have reduced their monthly phone bill by almost 50% and voice clarity has improved significantly with less complaints of calls fading out or getting disconnected. Service providers are today providing refined service.
Many people want to save more by opting for a reliable, trustworthy VOIP provider who does not compromise on the quality of the calls and service in spite of charging low.
Guidelines to Help You to Learn How to Choose Cheap VOIP Providers
There are times when every penny saved goes a long way, so if you are looking for tips on how to choose cheap VOIP providers, here are a few:
- Compare the various price ranges by various trustworthy providers, taking into account if any activation and termination fee are included.
- Learn what services they offer and whether you get unlimited free calls within a certain geographic location or if they are giving any complimentary offers such as no fee for the first month etc.
- Learn if they offer e911 service and find out if you can integrate the service with an existing phone line.
- Do not opt for services that need entirely new phone systems as you are concerned about saving money.
- Check online if there are any complaints against the service provider and read any reviews available about their service, quality of their call etc.
- Try using their service at a friends, relatives or neighbors house etc.
- Skype, yahoo and Gizmo Call etc. offer free PC-to-PC calls. Gizmo Call especially is extremely easy to use and absolutely free without users requiring to register, or download software.
To decide which VOIP service you would like to subscribe to, you should look at your requirements. If you want to make a lot of overseas calls, then a package that offers cheap international calls will make sense. If you receive most of your calls from a specific city, get a package that offers a specific phone number that allows people to call you at that local rate.
When you have done your research and have analyzed all factors, you have found out how to choose cheap VOIP providers who offer the maximum services at the minimum of rates and helps you save considerably on your phone bills.
Paid VoIP plans start at around $ 20 a month which comes to about $ 250 a year. So why pay for it if you can get it for free? Paid VoIP plans start at around $ 20 a month which comes to about $ 250 a year. So why pay for it if you can get it for free?
But before I delve into that let me notice that even with the free VoIP to landline or cell phone offers – there are often small long distance charges with common exceptions often dealing with free promotional offers.
There are certain features that the paid VoIP provider might provide which a free one might not. One such feature is the 911 emergency call service functionality. This particular issue has to do with the difficulty of pinpointing a geographical location of a call that is being routed through the Internet. FCC has regulated in 2005 that all VoIP providers hooking up to PSTN network are required to comply with providing full 911 call compatibility or otherwise not to obtain new customers in areas where it is mandatory.
Sometimes there is also raised a question of a voice transmission quality difference between the two types of VoIP although in my personal experience that has not been an issue.
Next there is the local phone number availability. Some free VoIP providers offer it as an add-on paid feature. The same may apply to extras like caller ID, call waiting, call forwarding and voice mail. Others allow you even to have more then one local number and in remote geographical locations.
If you are a business VoIP user the ability to send faxes over VoIP might be important to you as well. Or if you are using VoIP for conference calling with large number of simultaneous participants then it is definitely something to find out – how far will your VoIP provider be able to accommodate you with that.
The final answer to which type of VoIP is better will depend on whether you need these extra features. Also many paid VoIP providers have sign up specials offering either free VoIP phone sets and/or interface boxes for regular corded or cordless phones . So if you are planning on using regular phone sets for dialing up to VoIP network that might be then also something to consider.
And if you are not depending on free long distance VoIP to PSTN offers from the free VoIP providers then the amount of time you spend on the phone can also be a factor in deciding which type of VoIP is best suite to your needs.
Cheap telephone calls with Calling Card broadband phone services
Making phone calls through the Internet is the technology which enables cheap telephone calls, be they operated on a local basis or on a long-distance one. Making phone calls through the Internet is the technology which enables cheap telephone calls, be they operated on a local basis or on a long-distance one. Broadband phone services or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) rule over Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) lines, which are the regular landlines, first of all by means of this aspect concerning costs. Other advantages, summed up, advantages which are not made available by a regular PSTN, mainly relate to digital features only VoIP service providers can offer: conference, voicemail, caller ID, music-on-hold, and many others.
The number one requirement of VoIP services is that you make sure you are connected to high-speed Internet. The requirement is imposed by several VoIP codecs which need a bandwidth higher than the one provided by dial-up. At the same time, higher bandwidth is equal to time saving and voice quality preserving, preventing the delays which may occur with dial-up. Moreover, even if you make really cheap telephone calls, it does not mean that the quality of VoIP services has to suffer; with VoIP, cheap telephone calls also mean high-quality calls; and high-quality calls are equal to broadband connections.
Are traditional phone companies becoming nervous about the cheap telephone calls that subscribers can make by requiring the services of VoIP providers? Well, they should, because it is not only cheap telephone calls which make VoIP a valid and increasingly attractive choice, but also the supplementary advantages which are either provided for a fee by regular PSTNs or they are not provided at all. For instance, caller ID or call waiting, which are commonly a reason of supplementary charge for the conventional landlines, are more often than not offered for free or otherwise very low charged by VoIP service providers.
The same cheap telephone calls are maintained even if you choose to talk with your whole family at once. Due to three-way calling conferences, this is another application which sets VoIP at an advantage as compared to what a landline offers.
You can even travel with your broadband phone services active and you can surely rely on their functionality. Are you traveling abroad on a business trip and think about setting an agreement with your cell phone communication provider so as to enable international phone calls? Are you thinking about the supplementary costs of this extra service? With broadband phone services and a previous attentive searching of your ITSP’s (Internet Telephony Service Provider) calling offers, you will see that cheap telephone calls remain within your scope even if you leave the country. You can talk with your family or with business associates and not worry about conversation costs which could damage your budget.
Are you moving away from your current location? Do you worry that keeping in touch with your friends, relatives and other acquaintances, whom you are practically leaving in another state, will mean long-distance call charges which won’t allow you to talk with them as long and as often as you imagined? Well, in fact, there is no need to worry; not even in this case, since opting for a local number within broadband phone services is possible even if you move away from the locality. This means, indeed, that long-distance calls – for which a regular landline would have charged you considerably – remain the cheap telephone calls you use to make on a local basis.
And remember, the telecommunication market is highly competitive nowadays, so offers, promotional packages, free features are a recurrent phenomenon in the business of Voice over Internet Protocol enabled conversations. If you worry that you won’t be able to make a phone call to a regular landline destination, you worry in vain. The costs are, once again, maintained as low as possible while you are calling from your computer or from your softphone a dear friend who is registered as a subscriber to a regular PSTN line. Therefore, even if cost-effectiveness is what initially attracts customers towards VoIP services, at a certain point they become aware that the providers of such high-quality assistance in communication will also render available a number of applications otherwise impossible to get or too pricey with the regular landline. Cost-effectiveness and these supplementary advantages are the facts which determine more and more people to require the services of an ITSP.
The Development of the Calling Card Industry in the United States
In 1975 the idea of calling cards was brainstormed. One year later, in 1976 phone cards were released in Italy for public use. They were originally created as a way of dealing with the on going coin shortage problem. They also created an easy way to make phone calls from a pay phone without change.
It wasn’t until 1987 that calling cards became available to the public in the United States. World Telecom Group at the time was the dominating player in the industry with no major competition. In 1990 New York’s Regional Bell Operating Company decided to launch a calling card campaign with the first non-magnetic based phone cards. Instead their prepaid phone cards required dialing an access number and a PIN to terminate calls.
For the next two years more and more competitors entered the industry and by 1992 all major companies had released their own brand of calling cards. However, they continued to heavily market their long distance services as they were more profitable and easier then trying to convince the public to switch to a new, less convenient service. Industry wide sales hit about 12 million dollars with huge growth potential expected.
In the consumer’s mind prepaid phone cards had become an easy way to obtain discounted long distance services. Rates per minute were cheaper then what was offered from traditional residential long distance service, credit card calls, pay phones or cell phones. In addition using a prepaid calling card provided a way of putting all calling on one bill, regardless of where the call was made from. Cards could be used from consumer’s residential lines, pay phones, work phones or even at a friend’s house.
Unlike using a long distance service, where rates per minute changed depending on the time of day, calling card rates remained constant. Callers no longer had to be concerned about the time of day they place their calls.
By 1996 the industry had started booming. Industry wide sales had reached an all time high of one billion dollars. Smaller telecom companies began launching their own brands of calling cards and for a short while caught the major telecom companies off guard, while they were promoting long distance services, and took a large portion of the market.
Innovative telecommunication companies quickly realized the uniqueness of calling cards. That in order to use the card, the customer must look down and read the information written on the card. Telecommunication companies began selling all sorts of advertising on phonecards. Companies would purchase and label calling cards with their own names as promotional material. They were passed out as prizes, incentives and tourist souvenirs.
Through the mid to late 90′s the calling card industry continued to boom. Cards were widely used by immigrants calling home to their mother country, people interested in low rate domestic long distance calling and tourists. As a result the collect calling market saw a decline in use.
By the year 2000 and with the help of the dot com boom, the United States calling card market had become saturated. Thousands of Internet companies launched their own brands of calling cards. Calling card sales hit an all time high of 3 billion dollars and continues to grow even today.
In 2001 the industry revolutionized its self again. The first prepaid mobile phone became available. This was a cheap cell phone that had prepaid minutes on it. After the minutes were used up, the phone could either be recharged or discarded and a new one purchased. A prepaid cell phone was all the convenience of a phone card, with out the hassle of trying to find a phone to use. Prepaid wireless phones work identical to contract phones in terms of service quality and portability. Like the calling card market, analysts are predicting the prepaid mobile phone market to increase exponentially.
Like the calling card industry, the prepaid mobile phone industry is expected to continue thriving. Sales have skyrocketed to the millions since the first release on prepaid phones. Last September, 2005, IDT launched a new brand of prepaid cell phones targeted at the Latino and Hispanic population.