Sunday, September 2, 2007

WTF is Betamax (VoIP)?

Most VoIP users probably know the company Betamax from Cologne (Germany) or one of their more than 20 cheap brands like Voipbuster, Voipstunt, Voipcheap, Sparvoip, Voipwise, Webcalldirect and their latest tongue in cheak attack against Jajah, called Nonoh.

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 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.


  1. Markus,
    Thanks for mentioning our "Start your own phone company for $199".

    Can you really depend on betamax for business? It seems to me that at least some of the routes they are selling at below cost. Sure it is great for casual use, but can a business depend on it in the long term. As I said in the Sunrocket case - If it sounds too good to be true it probably is! Save this comment, it will one day be valuable!
    Moshe Maeir

  2. Of course you can depend on Betamax, even for business. But it's always recommendable to have another VoIP provider in the backhand. I use about 20 different VoIP providers.

  3. i heard COLT TELECOM is behind that venture,
    however i do not have the ability to verify it,

  4. somethiong tells me betamax is quite small company(aty least people wise; it might make a lot of money). the lack of easy customer service access, the seeming attention that goes in to diversifing prices under different brands, etc. in particular it is voipnow and nonoh that have just unbeliavably low prices. not only are many of the routes far below the competitors but also below the voicetrading wholesale prices. particularly the euro cell phones. i only wish that betamax had prices this low on one of there SIP compatible services. It is pretty much accross the board more expensive for any betamax service with advertised SIP settings than the ones that can not be used with SIP devices. ireally do not understand that part; unless they are taking a loss on many of the routes and actually want to keep the usage to a minimum and promote certain brands instead profit from thoose brands.

  5. I realy dont understand why nobody seems to be able to find out anything better then what i read allmost everywhere over the Internet . I know just about everything about those people , but i am not in the right position to give it away at the moment . Let me tell you one thing , searching and reading will get you realy far and a lot is on the Internet !!! But you realy have to dig in !!!! :-)

  6. I have no idea if anyone here can help me... But I'm just curious how to get ahold of someone with the company... We've been blocked twice now to where we can't make any phone calls or Text messages. Not even to free contacts. Can anyone help me.

  7. Hi,
    I was using JustVoip, VoipWise (from Germany) for quite long time and had no problems with it until 26. Jan 2008. Now none of my outgoing call works. Not only for me but to many of my friends too. I wrote email to customer service and no reply yet.
    What this could mean?
    They cheated us?

    Would like to hear if anyone have had the same experience.


  8. thinking about why betamax gmbh can offer 120 free minutes per week i came to 2 conclusions:

    betamax might be ...

    a) a money laundring organsation, because with dozens of internet offerings and thousands of clients it would be quite easy to automatically put in dirty money without fear to be detected by fbi, cia etc.

    b) a company interested in wire tapping of millions of calls.

    regular legal business would never ever allow this kind of low tarifs.

  9. Betamax offers 300 minutes per week. Not just 120. Read my new text:

    Markus Göbel's Tech News Comments:
    VoIP provider Betamax apparently victim of a scam

    (Friday, February 01, 2008)

  10. It honestly wouldn't surprise me if it was a company interested in phone tapping, I use voipbusterpro and recently when on the phone I've heard clicks like the sound of a phone going down, but everybody on the otherside except the person on the phone has been in bed, and everybody on my side has been away from the phone. It made no sense but hey. At 10 euros a year I'm not complaining.

  11. i am german and i am playing with the idea to have a look on that company.
    entering as an interested student and asking for some practice work there ...

    as far as i can tell - never had problems with lrvoip. great thing.

  12. Ok. well I left a comment a few weeks ago about this company, and we are still having problems with it. As I look at all the accounts we have with Betamax I notice that as the funds get to about 5 dollars is when we are no longer aloud to make any more phone calls. do we have a cure to this problem? Currently we are puchasing calling cards to make long distance phone calls, which in essance might be safer anyways.

    I'm very disappointed with this company. And I have yet receive an email in regards to my emailing the company.

  13. Were using voicetrading for a year now and had twice a major technical Problem. In january they havent been available for hours and same in September or October. It is nearly impossible to get a response even If the service is not working, no answer if there is a problem, when it will be fixed and so on. Low Rates no SLA at all, so for serious business use not the best choice without a failover. What really annoys us is that terms are changing rapid. We relied on paying with paypal, not option is gone without any notice. Our Mails never led to any answer from their side.
    We will use voicetrading in future as they proved to fail seldom but we will route with other carriers in future and shift volume as they are too unreliable.

  14. Well, Friends...we are Betamax Voip Reseller ( ) for the last 3 years. No doubt, Every company has its pros and cons. But frankly we are using all our own various accounts as usual. Sometimes I do concern about those who complain about their account has been blocked Or giving error. It might be because of several reasons like bandwidth or trying to cheat (anyway) Or somebody from their nears and dears are getting disadvantage. If you will USE it by YOURSELF only and will NOT SHARE your account I am sure you will be able to utilise it in a better way. My humble advise it to monitor your way of calling and proper hardware usage.

    Though, I am always eager from VoIP users about their existing problems with Betamax. So, that instead of blamming the company, We can find the proper solution.


  15. Markus, are you starving? Just read your ending. If you like this blog post please make a donation... Hmmmmm I did like it in fact I sent it to severall friends but donate.. sorry. I will donate to ppl who need the money more. Try to get some sponsors instead then my reading helps you ;) as i might click on their banners to support you

  16. Have not checked if those contacts work but address and tel for Betamax can be found on
    Good luck


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