Tuesday, April 17, 2007

More tricks for free phone calls

Yesterday I told under the headline „Why mobile and landline phone calls will soon be free“ my outlook on the future of telecommunications. I am sure that per minute charges for landline and mobile phone calls will soon be a thing of the past. Even a 29 dollar monthly flatrate for all calls will seem too expensive. But not because the companies change their business models. It's the clients who find ways to circumvent the paid networks. They leverage their phone costs by using the SIP standard which can be seen as a Pandora's box to the industry.

Today I want to show you some other examples how I would do it. I'll also try to explain how the companies try to avoid these tricks. Skype and Truphone for instance try to stay out of the rat race by avoiding to implement the whole functionality of the SIP standard. Skype more than Truphone, obviously. Rebtel tries to tie up their clients to pay 1 Dollar a week for their incoming numbers. Jajah wants you to deposit at least 5 dollars on your account to charge you for their callback service. But they all can be beaten.

Connect Skype to a normal phone:

Skype relies on its own closed communication standard and until now there were no easy ways to use Skype on your normal phone. But maybe these days are over.

The VoSKY Exchange from abpTECH alleges to be the world's first product to seamlessly bridge an existing PBX to the Skype network. It adds four Skype lines to your PBX, and extends the benefit of Skype to every extension in your office.

At CeBIT the Italian company PCService presented in march their Linux software Skip2PBX, which serves as an addition to a company's existing PBX. Installed on a Linux machine, which can also be virtual, it controls up to 30 Skype accounts at one time, using different sessions of the Skype program. When a Skype call arrives it's being redirected to a phone. The Users can call their Skype contacts for free by using short numbers on their phone.

But the easiest way is certainly to use Fring on a mobile phone. Why hassle with the PBX when there is a phone software that communicates with all kind of messengers and SIP phone networks? Fring works on Wifi and 3G.

Get a cheap incoming phone number for Truphone:

Truphone has another interesting way to assure their income. They give free calls to 40 countries worldwide until end of June, but maybe this special offer will last forever. It's not only a marketing gag, they just have another source of income. The Truphone numbers in the UK are mobile phone numbers. To call them is quite pricey and Truphone takes its share from the incoming calls, as a Truphone network engineer affirms.

But there is an easy way to avoid these costs:

Install Sipgate as a second SIP provider in your mobile phone. So people can call you on your free Sipgate landline number. You can even set up a call forward from the Sipgate number. Just install Sipgate on Voxalot and make a call forward to your Truphone SIP address which has the form 447624XXXXXX@truphone.com. Your friends can call you always on your Sipgate number, but poor Truphone (which you will probably use for the free outbound calls) will not earn on the inbound leg from PSTN anymore.

Truphone always tried to prevent this kind of tweaking by not showing to their costumers their own SIP password. Truphone's software leaves it encrypted on the Nokia mobile phone to prevent that people use the service on other devices, circumventing the Truphone network. So do the Sipgate workaround! Calls between Sipgate and their partner networks are free, that's understood.

Get lots of inbound numbers like at Rebtel:

One business of Rebtel is to give you local incoming phone numbers in many countries and charge a dollar a week for that. But why should you pay when there are free incoming numbers? I, for instance, have dozens of SIP accounts with their respective inbound numbers from different countries concentrated at Voxalot. No matter which number you call, they all ring on the same phone. The thing gets even more funny because my Voxalot account works with Sipbroker and Tpad. They have inbound number in nearly every country of the world. You can call them at a local rate, dial the account number and my phone will ring.

Free Jajah like web callback:

Voxalot even has a Jajah like web callback. But other than Jajah these calls can cost you nothing if you use free VoIP providers on both legs of the call. There is also a version for cell phones at mobile.voxalot.com which costs nearly nothing for the mobile data. Enjoy your free calls!

Of course the described services also work on mobile phones outside Wifi, using an IP PBX with GSM SIM cards as 4S newcom offers.

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