Calling home with VoIP

I checked the AT&T rates we pay when I call to my family in Greece. Even if we have a long distance carrier to help lower the prices, we still pay about $0.20 per minute plus a $0.50 connection fee. That’s expensive. It means that the cheapest call you can ever hope to make already costs you $0.70.

I now use heavily the VoIP-based service GizmoProject for my long distance calls. Gizmo gave to some of its registered users a $5 credit last year for free and while I completely ignored it in the beginning, when I got my Nokia E61 that supported VoIP calls, I decided to use Gizmo to call Greece. Their prices are considerably lower, $0.019 for Greece, and so that five dollar credit lasted three months! I am definitely going to buy some credit with Gizmo now rather than use AT&T to call abroad. Hopefully, JBQ will do the same for his calls to France too ($0.020 per minute for French landlines).

Of course, using VoIP instead of an established phone company means that you will get bad quality occassionally. I noticed that 1 out of 5 calls are sub-par quality-wise. But given the price, I am willing to put up with that. Additionally, calls to cellphones abroad are pretty expensive too ($0.25), but still, cheaper than AT&T again and without any connection fees.

BTW, if you created your Gizmo account early last year, you might have been awarded with a $5 credit too. Check out your balance after logging in here. You must use this credit within a year you see. Don’t let it go to waste.


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Eugenia wrote on February 25th, 2007 at 9:08 AM PST:

I checked Jajah, and I honestly don’t understand it. From one side it says that it’s free from countries belong to Group A and B, but on the other side it also says that calls cost $0.028 per minute if the person you intend to call is not a Jajah member. The whole deal is just not clearly defined. If I have to pay $0.028 per minute, Gizmo is actually cheaper.

Andreas wrote on February 25th, 2007 at 9:19 AM PST:

Eugenia, check also jajah out. I didn’t test it myself but it seems to be very promising. They have similar rates with GizmoProject but the big plus is that you do not need special VoiP devices or headsets. You use a normal phone.

I just opened an account and I plan to test it today. For a start, they give you 50 cent free. For active accounts – that means accounts that were used in the past two weeks to make calls or send an SMS – the calls are free in many cases (check their rates page). They offer also a lot of free plugins for various applications to make calls easier. There is also a great mac widget.

I like their “active account” definition. It is much more clear than this of the GizmoProject and the cost of the call is always obvious before you call.

Kyle wrote on February 26th, 2007 at 3:19 AM PST:

Voip is the future. check out the different companies and pricing schemes. I’ve been using voip with One Suite services. I have never had sound issues with them. I can use them on my computer as Voip or just over the land phone through traditional lines, or on my cell.. I haven’t used JaJah or Gizmo, so i can’t tell you anything about it.

Andreas wrote on February 26th, 2007 at 6:57 AM PST:

Eugenia, i used Jajah yesterday and it works fine. The quality of the call was excellent as a normal phone call.

Yes, it is a more expensive than Gizmo but still much more cheaper than nomal long distance cals. It is more convenient too.

The calls would be free when both you and the person you call are *active* registered members. That means they use both their account at least once every two weeks to make a phone call or send an SMS.

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Eugenia wrote on February 26th, 2007 at 7:07 AM PST:

I don’t think my mother wants to be a JaJah user… Besides, it’s pretty convenient with Gizmo too. I use a real SIP phone to connect to Gizmo’s service via my WiFi, so I don’t have to use a computer.

memso wrote on February 26th, 2007 at 12:14 PM PST:

Okay, VOIP.. my company were going to replace all our phones with VOIP ones, connected to a central server in our main office. We trialled it. This was a wired connection over a ADSL line. It absolutely sucked. Echo, delay, bad line quality, phone line noticably more unrelaiable (no carrier all the time.)

I had the same experience in 2004, when at a previous job we had a VOIP phone line (we were partially a telecoms company.) Exactly the same issues.

Until VOIP works seamlessly and reliably – with no echo, delay or loss of quality for absolutely no reason, it’s not really all that useful.

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Eugenia wrote on February 26th, 2007 at 12:38 PM PST:

Memson, companies don’t try to install Asterisk using the same connection that you use for internet connection (I assume this is what you did). You use Cisco hardware and a new connection. That’s how Openwave does it and they don’t have any problems at all, and they have about 1000 employees…

If you are on an ADSL connection for VoIP only that has 200 KBs up and 200 KBs down, you can fit over 20 phonecalls at the same time. And if you use the GSM codec (lower quality), you can fit about 25 phonecalls at the same time. Remember, the UP connection is as important as the DOWN connection.

But if you really want the best quality and no lag for your corporation, you go with Cisco, you don’t try to patch it up together by yourself. There is no secret there. Cisco costs money because it works as it is supposed to. It is the answer for corporations.

If you are on a very small company, up to 20-30 people, I guess you can do it yourself, on a separate DSL connection with considerably good UP connection…

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