Betamax undercuts nearly every price in VoIP, as you can see in this regularily updated comparison. It already happened that one VoIP company proudly sent me a personal e-mail to announce that they just had lowered their prices to Lima (Peru) landline to 4 Euro Cents. I just yawned and told them that at Betamax I get the same for just 1 Cent. And even they could have offered cheaper calls to Peru if they would have used Betamax' wholesale brand, Voice Trading, as provider where Lima landline cost only 2 Cents of an Euro.
Betamax is no insider tip anymore, as you can tell from thousands of postings in the corresponding internet forums. I guess they are one of the world’s biggest VoIP providers, but nobody knows that for sure because Betamax is so tight-lipped. Betamax' press releases are spare and their customer support is often lousy, as you can learn from many posts in internet forums. My e-mails to Betamax never got an answer. The German webzine Onlinekosten.de tells in its articles that the user forum on the Voipbuster website is difficult to find and that Betamax was reluctant to give any information.
Many people already felt betrayed because Betamax' pricing changes rapidly and the free call routes, which made them subscribe to the service, suddenly have to be paid. At least most customers nearly never need technical support because Betamax' VoIP worked great in the last years. With one short exeption that I covered on my blog: Too many phone calls? Voipbuster's server on fire (Friday, February 16, 2007).
So probably thousands of people are using Betamax. But does anybody know them?
I think that's an important question, because telephony is a matter of trust, especially in times when everyone can start his own phone company for just $199. Until now Betamax is the only VoIP provider that actually gets money from me, because normally I am an advocate of free phone calls. But sometimes cheap prices go together with a big drawback on the long run. Nobody wants his calls to be wiretapped and most people want to be sure that their payments don't go into a money laundering machine.
Betamax' website only states that they are not publicly listed and that "Betamax is a privately owned company. Betamax was founded in 2005 in Germany by a group of marketing experts and received funding from private investors and venture capitalists." I find it really funny how they try to prevent any contacts:
I want to contact Betamax. How?
We are busy developing our products and are a small company. To be honest we have little time. If you still have questions about Betamax, please contact us at service-at-betamax-dot-com.
A little bit more public relations work from Betamax would be great! I would really love to get better press releases and to read an in-depth story about Betamax soon. I still remember the time when they introduced Voipbuster in Germany. They gave us the calls for free, but wanted our bank account data. You had to send them one Euro from your bank account to start to make unlimited calls. This seemed suspicious and many people feared some kind of phishing or another big scam.
But until now Betamax turns out to be a reliable company. Only that they give no face to the customer and the media, which leaves room for conspiracy theories. The recognized VoIP blogger and entrepreneur Pat Phelan even says:
I couldn’t agree more with you on Betamax/voice trading/voipstunt/Nonoh and their almost reversal to norm role of press releases, press contacts and very little public interaction, as a carrier myself and someone who would have strong contacts in large European telcos. I can tell you that Betamax has its own rumour mill around it most of which I would not even dream to write here.
You can imagine that Pat's comment made me really courious. But he doesn't tell me much more, only that in Ireland they use Colt Telecom as provider.
So what do YOU know about Betamax?
Every comment is very welcome, especially if it comes from the Betamax people themselves. Maybe after all I have to be the person who writes the missing in-depth story.