VoIP to PSTN Calling - Costs

VoIP to PSTN Calling - Costs

Summary: Last week I wrote about the technical aspects of dial-out to PSTN phones, now I would like to take a look at the costs of such calls. Of course, these vary widely based on where you are calling to, and in some cases where you are calling from, so I will just use a few simple cases to get an idea of how the programs compare.

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Last week I wrote about the technical aspects of dial-out to PSTN phones, now I would like to take a look at the costs of such calls. Of course, these vary widely based on where you are calling to, and in some cases where you are calling from, so I will just use a few simple cases to get an idea of how the programs compare. Even such a simple comparison is not always easy or obvious, though, first because the companies often have "special programs" or "promotions" which reduce or eliminate the costs entirely. Also, ONE of the companies charges not only a per-minute fee, but also a "connect fee" on every call, so the actual per-minute cost depends on how long you talk. Care to guess who charges that way? Skype, of course.

I will eliminate ooVoo from this comparison first, because they are currently running a special promotion, all calls to the U.S. and Canada are free until March 1st (up to 120 minutes of total calls), regardless of where you are calling from. Unfortunately, calls to anywhere else in the world are currently not possible, and they have not announced what the prices will be for calls after March 1st. So I will have to come back to this after they announce the prices.

Gizmo also has a special program which allows you to call some numbers in the U.S. for free. To find out if the number you want to call qualifies, go to http://gizmo5.com/pc/backdoor. They also have a program called "All Calls Free", which has a rather complex set of requirements and qualifications. I have tried several times to read and understand them, and I have to say honestly that they still escape me. However, if you qualify you are then able to call your contact's registered home and cell phones at no charge.

Skype also has a special program, called SkypePro, which may eliminate the per-minute charge on some calls, depending on where you are calling from and to, and provided that you don't exceed some arbitrary total number of minutes per month, and may even eliminate the per-call connection fee, if you are calling from and to the U.S. and Canada. However, be very careful about that last point - even if you have subscribed to SkypePro, and are paying a monthly fee to get all calls within your country "free", if you are anywhere outside the U.S. and Canada, you are still subject to a per-call "connect fee"!

Whew. Ok, with all those "special programs" aside, here are some typical per-minute costs, in U.S. Dollars and Cents, for calls TO the following countries:

U.S.A. - to all Land Line and Mobile Numbers

Gizmo: 1.9 cents/minute SightSpeed: 2.0 cents/minute Skype: 2.4 cents/minute PLUS 4.5 cents connection fee

United Kingdom - Land Line

Gizmo: 2.0 cents/minute SightSpeed: 2.0 cents/minute Skype: 2.4 cents/mintue PLUS 4.5 cents connection fee

United Kingdom - Mobile

Gizmo: 21 cents/minute SightSpeed: 22 cents/minute Skype: 29.1 cents/minute PLUS 4.5 cents connection fee

France - Land Line

Gizmo: 2.0 cents/minute SightSpeed: 3.0 cents/minute Skype: 2.4 cents/minute PLUS 4.5 cents connection fee

France - Mobile

Gizmo: 21.8 cents/minute SightSpeed: 22-29 cents/minute Skype: 23.3 cents/minute PLUS 4.5 cents connection fee

Germany - Land Line

Gizmo: 2.0 cents/minute SightSpeed: 2.0 cents/minute Skype: 2.4 cents/minute PLUS 4.5 cents connection fee

Germany - Mobile

Gizmo: 24.3 cents/minute SightSpeed: 27-33 cents/minute Skype: 28.3 cents/minute PLUS 4.5 cents connection fee

Switzerland - Land Line

Gizmo: 2.0 cents/minute SightSpeed: 2.0 cents/minute Skype: 2.4 cents/minute PLUS 4.5 cents connection fee

Switzerland - Mobile

Gizmo: 39.8 cents/minute SightSpeed: 33 cents/minute Skype: 42.2 cents/minute PLUS 4.5 cents connection fee

These rates are not only much, much better than what I have to pay for "roaming" calls if I use my mobile phone while I am traveling, or what hotels charge for calls, they are even lower than what I pay for international calls from my home phone in Switzerland.

Comparing the three programs, I think the pattern is clear. Skype is consistently the most expensive per minute, AND you have to add the "connection fee" to each call. You may be able to reduce your effective cost, depending on your specific calling habits, by signing up for the "SkypePro" program, but if you live outside the U.S. and Canada you still have to pay the "connection fee" on every call.

It will be interesting to see where ooVoo fits in this comparison. I will report as soon as they make their pricing information available.

jw 21/2/2008

Topic: Linux

J.A. Watson

About J.A. Watson

I started working with what we called "analog computers" in aircraft maintenance with the United States Air Force in 1970. After finishing military service and returning to university, I was introduced to microprocessors and machine language programming on Intel 4040 processors. After that I also worked on, operated and programmed Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-8, PDP-11 (/45 and /70) and VAX minicomputers. I was involved with the first wave of Unix-based microcomputers, in the early '80s. I have been working in software development, operation, installation and support since then.

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