Big Choices In The UK For Internet Phone Services
If Skype paved the way for free and low-cost telephone calls via the internet for early adopters, enthusiasts and others who 'saw the light,' ...
... then Freetalk looks set to kick-start a mass market in the UK with the launch last week of a new internet phone service that lets you use the phones you already have to make internet calls, without turning on a PC.
On the face of it, Freetalk's deal looks very good - for an annual cost of ₤79.99 (about €117) you can make calls to any UK landline number for free. International calls and calls to mobile phones are charged at low rates, certainly much less than the rates charged by telcos like BT.
The full features list is here.
It's interesting to make a comparison with Skype from the cost point of view. Making calls to landlines in the UK via SkypeOut costs two eurocents a minute including VAT (roughly, just over a penny). And that's the same per-minute rate you'd pay to make calls to any landline number in a country in the SkypeOut Global Rate list - which is all of western Europe, North America, parts of South America and Australia. Plus there's no subscription fee to pay for making calls - just buy your SkypeOut credit on the go. So if you're in the UK and making lots of international calls, Skype may be a better bet. Or perhaps get both - Freetalk for UK calls, Skype for abroad and for things like text messaging.
There is some small print in Freetalk's deal. For instance, if you talk for more than 60 minutes in any one call to a UK landline number, you'll be charged two pence a minute (about three eurocents) for each minute beyond your 60.
Still, if what you want to do is just plug a box into your broadband internet connection, connect your normal phones to that box, activate your account online and start making calls, then Freetalk is especially appealing. No PC to turn on to make calls, no software to download and install, just use your phone as you did before.
It's about ease of use (and this is so easy, my mother would love it).
The Freetalk service is currently offered to individual consumers. But Freetalk have plans: "Coming soon, we will launch a range of telephony packages for small businesses."
And speaking of Skype, a new version 1.4 of their software for Windows was released last week. Some great new features including call forwarding.
Skype also has some interesting new services in development - Skype Toolbars Beta (new one for Internet Explorer), Skype Zones Beta ("You can now access Skype and make calls from more than 18,000 Skype-friendly internet hot spots round the world") and Skype Groups Beta (for groups or teams: "Now you donât have to fiddle around with credit cards and payments; instead the group administrator can allocate Skype Credit, SkypeIn numbers and Skype Voicemail to all members of the group").
It's a great time to be a customer!
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About the Author:
Neville Hobson is the author of the popular NevilleHobson.com blog which focuses on business communication and technology.
Neville is currentlly an independent communication practitioner helping companies build dynamic relationships with customers, employees, shareholders and other key audiences and influencers. Visit Neville Hobson's blog: NevilleHobson.com.
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