Saturday, January 23, 2010

Stay Connected with PC-to-Phone Service

If you make international business trips and carry a laptop computer than PC-to-Phone service is a great way to stay connected while on the road. As long as you have an INTERNET connection, you can make cheap international calls from any location to other computers or to any phone in the world. Calls to other computers using the same PC-to-Phone software are often Free while there is a charge for placing calls to phones (landlines or cell phones). The rates vary depending on the country and the type of phone called but rates are much lower than those charged by international hotels or long distance carriers. PC-to-Phone service is also popular with students, expats and people who operate small businesses with an international focus.

PC-to-Phone service providers continue to add new features that make their product more flexible and convenient to use. For example, Skype, one of the most popular PC-to-Phone service providers, offers free calls to other Skype users and the following added features.

  • Low rates on calls to landlines and cell phones.
  • An online phone number so people can reach you on Skype from any phone.
  • The ability to send text messages from Skype.
  • A built in Voice Mail feature so calls are never missed.
  • Call forwarding that forwards incoming calls to a regular phone when the user is off-line.
  • Mobile applications so Skype can be used from Mobile Phones.

Skype has continued to innovate and add features in order to broaden the appeal of their service.

We think Skype is a great option for people who want to make free calls to other Skype users. However, Skype’s international rates on calls to landlines and cell phones are not as low as other cheap international calling options. In addition to a per-minute charge for each call, Skype also charges a connection fee for each call made to a land-line or cell phone. In order to evaluate the relative cost of making international calls to landlines or cell phones with Skype, we compared the international rates charged by Skype to those charged by Tel3Advantage for the same call from the USA. Tel3Advantage was selected for this comparison since it is a high quality prepaid calling plan that can be used to make low cost domestic or international long distance calls from any phone without changing companies and it is very popular with those who make frequent international calls from the USA or Canada.

We compared Skype published rates (excluding their connection fee) to those charged by Tel3Advantage to the following popular destinations.

A Comparison of International Rates* (US cents per-minute)

Destinations

Skype

Tel3Advantage




Afghanistan

40.8

22

Brazil

6.4

3.6

Mexico

11.4

6

Morocco

29.6

17.5

Nigeria

18.5

13.5

Philippines

22.8

10.5

Saudi Arabia

28.2

10.5

Thailand

13

1.5

*For calls originating in the USA – Rates posted on the respective company websites on January 23, 2010.

In general, it seems that rates charged by Skype on calls to landlines and cell phones are higher than those charged by prepaid long distance providers. This makes sense since they do not make money of the free Skype-to-Skype calls they provide or the free software people can download from their website. They do provide a high quality niche service that is ideal for a segment of the market but it is not the best option for everyone.


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