An honest calling card, the next step to long distance calls?

By Yousif Abdullah on 1 Oct 2010 01:20 pm EDT
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Jajah

Picture this. You have friends or relatives out there in this big, big world. The only connection you have to them is e-mail, texting, BBM or perhaps traditional letters à la snail mail. You have tried VoIP on your computer, but due to timezone differences you gave up on that idea - not to mention of the weak connection and stuttering audio. You probably get to see just once in a lifetime and can only dream of a face to face conversation. Trust me, I know exactly how you feel now.

Exchanging messages or letters does not quite cut it, though. No matter how many emoticons you use, hearing the other person talk is just a completely different experience. Dialing an international number through your carrier can get very expensive, though. But sometimes when you do not have that calling card handy, you simply lean towards this costly route and probably end up with a $1000 bill. Been there, done that. As much as I would like to call my friends and family, I simply do not have a thousand dollars to spend every week or month, so there must be a better approach. And maybe, just maybe there is.

JAJAH, the popular telephony service for making cheap international calls, takes the calling card concept one step further: meet the Honest Calling Card. With low rates and no hidden fees, it is the only one of its kind and is available in both physical and online form as well as a BlackBerry application. Interestingly, when you buy the Honest Calling Card App, its cost equals the amount of calling credit purchased. In other words, you pay for as much as you have the need to. Best of all, calls made with the Honest Calling Card may be tracked online ensuring that "rip offs" are a matter of the past. I definitely like this idea, as it would allow me to carry a virtual calling card with me wherever I am - or at least where I last placed my BlackBerry, which thankfully happens far less than misplacing my calling card!

9 comments

trentoncampbell

Google voice is also great for international calls. I call my sister in england for $.02 a minute.

Yousif Abdullah

I wish there was a possibility for me to try Google Voice, but as it currently is available to U.S. customers only, I must rely on another solution and JAJAH seems perfect for this. I have yet to try JAJAH, but I will do that and report back here to give people a rough idea of what to expect. Some type of special feature / video review.

Remember, this is the International News section, U.S. only stuff has no place here ;). Just kidding, but this is what the Google Voice page looks like to me:

"Thanks for visiting Google Voice. We're not yet open for users outside the US, but are planning to expand our service to additional countries in the future."

PDM

You just need to be a bit more tech-savy! In order to create a Google Voice account (and NOT live in the US) ;)

As you've opened this can of worms. Perhaps, you'll also review the VoIP clients and advise which you think is better and why e.g. BlackVoib. As it works perfectly with my VoIP accounts.

Yousif Abdullah

While it is true that Google Voice can be set up for use outside the U.S., it is far from being a good solution. Not only must you use a proxy to sign up for Google Voice, but you also need a U.S. number for incoming calls. Trying to forward Google Voice to a non-U.S. number may end up not working. In addition, there is the small chance that Google will ban your account as it violates its terms of service. Lastly, no matter how many times you try, getting the BlackBerry application to function is next to impossible. So, being tech-savvy has nothing to do with this. The initial problem was to find a solution to make long distance calls more convenient, for which the JAJAH Honest Calling Card seems perfect. Setting up a Google Voice account for use outside the U.S. is far from being convenient, not to mention the sheer complexity involved that most people do not know to deal with.

Only few VoIP clients are available for BlackBerry. In addition to BlackVoib, which you mentioned, I am only aware of the Vippie Mobile client: http://voipswitch.com/en/products/softphones/mobile-softphones/softphone-for-blackberry/. I do not believe to be reviewing BlackBerry VoIP clients any time soon, but I will see what I can do.

At any case, you are missing the point a bit. No one should have the need to use a proxy to sign up for a service. As a general rule, do not circumvent the system even if it is feasible to do so. As it stands currently, Google Voice only supports the U.S. officially. When the time comes and Google opens the doors to other countries, I will cover that. Not now, though.

PDM

I have to agree with some of the points you've made. However, I suppose its all down to how someone uses the various services.

Personally for incoming calls I have Google Voice > Sipgate US > Fritz!Box > Landline. Outgoing can be either from my BB > SIP Provider or Landline > Fritz!Box (call routing by cheapest provider) > destination.

I tend to find that the VoIP providers have far cheaper calling rates than what JahJah provides. Whilst, I do have the JahJah client installed (approx 92kB) - I have never really used it.

Yousif Abdullah

Of course, as you demonstrated, it is possible to use not only a single service, but a chain of different services to achieve cheap calling rates. However, I am concerned of a couple of things regarding this solution: reliability and quality. The probability of failure is higher with multiple service providers versus a single service provider, and while this is more theory than reality, it is still an important point to take note of. And again, there is certainly some complexity involved to be able to do what you have done.

I mentioned quality and with that I mean call quality. I would be very interested in seeing a direct comparison of a setup like yours vs. a more straightforward approach such as using JAJAH. Should call quality be similar then by all means look for a cheaper option, because in the end all that matters is the contact that is established between you and your friends/family living abroad. However, if call quality is better with something like JAJAH, I personally would pay the extra. Unless the difference is enormous, of course.

Then again, calling rates for each service provider differ from country to country and where you are calling from. Of course, whether you are using a mobile or landline accounts for some difference too. In comparison to the calling cards I have used though, JAJAH's pricing is reasonable to the countries I call to.

I must thank you for pointing out the possible alternatives, because long distance calling is something many want to do and knowing all the possible options is great. This way, everyone benefits. Again, thanks!

DJ Reyes

I think i may give this a try. I've tried lots of different things in the past and this sounds good to me.

Loving the posts Yousif

Yousif Abdullah

Liking your stuff, too ;)

RedVixen81

I may try this too but I need to do more research on it as I have friends in the UK and South Africa! Wanna make sure there locations are covered and the price per min doesn't change!