How To Make Free Or Cheap International Phone Calls Through VOIP
Published 11/25/07 (Modified 3/22/11)
Since my parents and a few of my friends and relatives live overseas, I'm always on the hunt for ways to make cheap international phone calls. Domestic calls are never a problem because I just use my cell phone minutes where long distance charges are already included.
I've looked at the international phone rates of traditional land line carriers but none can compare to the cheaper prices offered by online voice over internet protocol (VOIP) services like Skype.
It Was Good While It Lasted
I've tried many different programs over the years. Some have been absolutely wonderful but sadly many ultimately went out of business due to unsustainable business models. One of my past favorites was FreeCalls365, which allowed users to call landline phones using their PC's. They made money from ads that were displayed on their dialer program while you talked. They've since gone out of business.
A few other dearly departed programs include AllFreeCalls and Yak4Ever. These two companies were closely related and started out as AllFreeCalls before it shut down and later resurrected by a new operator as Yak4Ever. Both companies exploited the same Iowa state telephone law that allowed them to provide free international phone calls to users. The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) kickback scheme they utilized was based on the FCC's own requirement that large telecommunication companies pay part of the fees incurred by rural telephone providers. By partnering with local phone companies in Iowa, AllFreeCalls and Yak4Ever were able to take advantage of a legal loophole that allowed them to keep a portion of the fees generated from every inbound call to an Iowa number as kickback. All users had to do was dial a local Iowa/Minnesota number, enter the international phone number they wanted to reach, and they would get instant free calls.
Eventually the scheme failed due to pressure from the big telecommunication companies which simply stopped paying the fees altogether due to their refusal to subsidize non-Iowans for calls that were mostly routed out of state. Their refusal to pay and the FCC's seeming reluctance to enforce payment ultimately caused the ruse to collapse, thus ending their run.
How I Make Free International Phone Calls Via The Internet Now
All the juicy free calling services are mostly gone now, but I'm still on the continued lookout for free, cheap, and more versatile ways to make free phone calls overseas. Currently I use Skype's application, but unfortunately I am not able to make international calls to a traditional phone through Skype for free. Computer to computer calling is free via Skype, but computer to landline phone calls still cost money, although Skype's international calling rates are impressively low. My parents use SkypeOut for cheap computer to phone calling and they tell me that they easily pay less than half of what they'd normally pay with a regular landline phone plan. Voice quality is nearly the same quality as that of a regular phone conversation as well.
Whenever my parents and I want to talk for extended periods of time, they call my cell phone using a regular phone and signal me to get onto Skype. Once we respectively log into Skype via our computers, we can talk for as long as we want. It's not as convenient as phone to phone calling, but it's absolutely free and saves us a lot of money on international phone calls.