Thursday, December 21, 2006

PSTN Cheaper Than Skype? Sometimes

Colleague Mark Goldberg had a nice post today that had me nodding in agreement all the way. With all the buzz around Skype's cheap, flat rate North America SkypeOut program, you'd think the race to zero with voice calls was pretty much over.

Well, not everybody uses Skype and not everybody wants to download software or connect to the Internet to make a phone call. Dial-around plans have been around for ages, and from the user's point of view they're pretty much the same as a regular PSTN call with a few extra digits on the front end of the call. The calls may well traverse IP networks along the way, but this is not VoIP.

Mark notes on his blog that dial-around rates from Canadian operators are considerably less than Skype for countries like Israel and the Phillipines. No doubt that closer to home, Skype is a great deal, but it doesn't hold across the board. I'm sure Skype's international rates will get better as their volumes grow, and they strike better termination deals, but in some cases, the plain old PSTN is still the best way to go. I use dial-around myself from time to time, and it's especially beneficial for mobile calls. Call me old fashioned, but I've never had a problem with it.

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