Free phone connections
After reading the article “BBC News: Talk is cheap and getting cheaper” I thought I might try the services from the providers mentioned in the article:
Let me start by saying I’m not an expert on internet phones, SIP, Skype or Asterisk. Having said that I am running an Asterisk server with 5 international numbers: 2 from the Netherlands, 1 German, 1 Swiss and 1 UK number. It is also hooked into my own landlines and exchanges calls with my Asterisk server. I’ve also hooked in a tiptel cyberBOX 100[pdf] for my Skype which is also routed into my Asterisk. So with the exception of my mobile phone my phone costs are not that high.
I received 2.00 Euros free and used it to call my home phone from my mobile. Sadly the noise reduction didn’t make my phones sing. I could only hear my voice in one of the phones at a time, which would make it difficult to interrupt my irritating friends when they are telling me a boring story I don’t want to hear. Besides from which it costs 0.12 Euros to call my mobile from a landline. There is an Outlook plugin, but I didn’t try it as I didn’t want it to mess with my contacts, besides from which I use SkypeOut as it includes my Skype addresses.
I actually assumed that this was also a phone2phone connector, but it doesn’t make clear how to do this. It is a SIP service and it’s possible to get 0207 (London) and 0870 numbers, but this costs £11.75
They offers calls from my landline to my mobile for 0.10 Euros, but as with Jajah the quality leaves a lot to be desired. Being a SIP service means they also offer all the possibilities that a standard SIP service does. (FYI: voipcheap.co.uk is the same company as voipcheap.com)
Seems like one of the nicest of the above. A call-in number for 3 or 12 month cost $12 and $35 respectively, although you can get a free area 775 number. Again it’s a SIP service. (I must say I might hook up the free area 775 number to my Asterisk, if I have the time to test it out.)
It didn’t surprise me that all of the above are SIP services or that they actually cost money. Nor did it surprise me that the overall quality was poor. What did surprise me is that I found nothing new in the features offered. Basically they setup an Asterisk server, bought a range of phone numbers, cheap minutes, bandwidth, and a space on a phonebank. And now they are earning money.
Perhaps I should start an Internet PBX, or just open up the one I’m using now. Although I think the real killer app would be having a service which chooses the cheapest service for each call and routes the calls according to the price.