Wednesday, May 06, 2009

It's Doom For Calling Cards

International long distance rates have been traditionally so high as to produce nose bleeds. The response has been the rise of calling cards, especially prepaid phone cards, and cheaper international rates from VoIP broadband telephone services. Indeed, you can find competitive worldwide long distance rates at a fraction of what you would have settled for a few years ago. But now another service has emerged that threatens to take the international market over from the calling card companies.

What is this new service and how does it beat buying cards at the store or even ordering prepaid calling cards online? It's actually a new twist on a service that's been available for years.

You may never have heard of "dial-around" phone services. They were hot before cell phones became the dominant force in communications. Most cell phone plans now don't distinguish between local and long distance minutes. You get charged a minute when you talk for a minute, regardless of whether the other party is next door or six states away. But cell phones have a fatal flaw for anyone who wants to call out of the country. Either they don't work at all or the extra rates are so high that your nose will start bleeding when you get the bill. International calling is not part of your domestic cell phone service.

This is where dial-around comes to save the day. You don't want to make an international call on your cell phone when you know you're going to get dinged huge extra charges. Instead, you want to "dial around" them and into a service that is expressly tailored to optimize international calling rates. That's the idea behind an international dialaround.

TEL3Advantage is the agile and clever player in the resurgence of dial-around telephone services. Their game changing strategy is a combination of dirt cheap long distance rates from the USA and Canada to just about every place on Earth, coupled with high call quality and new software technology that makes international cell phone calls easier than using a landline. It also works from landlines, by the way.

Just how cheap are those rates? Under a couple of cents per minute to China. In fact, they're running what they call a "triple play" savings right now that lets you call China for just a penny a minute. The deal is a 30% reduction in rates for 30 days plus up to 900 free calling minutes. Even the regular rates spell doom for many conventional calling cards. But the discount makes per minute rates really eye-popping. Check international calling rates and see for yourself.

The technology improvement involves making it easier to use the dialaround service. Prepaid calling cards are the worst. You dial an access number and then enter a long PIN number that uniquely identifies you. If you get it right, you'll hear a dial tone and you can then enter the number of the party you want to call. If not, you'll have to squint at the small print on the back of the card and take another run at it.

But what if you could get rid if the PIN? TEL3Advantage has a system that lets you call one of thousands of local access numbers or a toll free number. You don't need a PIN number because the system will recognize your phone. You can even eliminate the minor inconvenience of dialing the access number when you download a free software application for your cell phone. The software will know the access number to call and it will connect you with the system whenever you want to make an international call. The rest of the time you use your cell phone as you always have. This system doesn't interfere with that.

So here's the bottom line. Make use of a prepaid international dialaround service that has rates that are often lower than many prepaid calling cards, with the convenience of not having to dial a PIN number or even an access number, enjoy high call quality that isn't always available through calling card services, and get the minutes you order because this service doesn't charge you connection fees or weekly service fees. What does it spell? Once widely known and enjoyed, it spells doom for many calling cards.

Follow Telexplainer on Twitter