Recommendation Thoughts Travels

The cost of a telephone call

Traveling as much as I do to different parts of the world, means staying in communication is and has been extremely difficult and costly.

My good friend, Bill Robertson, once said that he had a telephone book just for me, as I was forever having a new contact telephone number.

Not only that, his first words to me would be, “Where are you today?”  Poor Bill never knew where I was.

Regarding my telephone numbers, yes I moved about from home to home as employment and circumstances changed. With a land line telephone, that meant a new telephone number.

With the advent of the mobile telephone, allowing us to be mobile in our daily life, our home location telephone system soon became irrelevant. It is more and more common these days for people not to have a fixed land line telephone, relying solely on mobile phones.

Problem solved for Bill, all he had to do is remember my mobile phone number. (+44) 07973178602.

Problem for me was that if I was in a country other than the UK, when receiving Bill’s calls, I would pay a fortune, an add-on international phone charge just to receive his call.

Now, I do not mind paying that extra to speak to Bill, but I do object to paying for “cold sales” calls, wanting to sell me a new mobile phone, an insurance policy, advertising space, to sell our timeshare or replacement windows.

My first solution to this problem was to obtain a sim card, a mobile number for the country I am visiting, that I can insert into a spare phone I carry around with me.

Problem solved, poor old Bill  will have more numbers for me to remember or write in his little black book, plus he would have to pay the international call charge for the privilege of speaking to me. Plus I would have to spend a fortune telling people of my foreign telephone number.

But this is a problem for me, as I do not want a contract with a foreign (non UK) phone company, paying a monthly fee, and a “Pay-as-you-go” service is OK, but if the number is not used for say three months, you loose the number and any credits I may have.

Then came VoIP, a revolution in communication, using the internet to make telephone calls. This system was all well for technical minded people, who could get their heads around SIP codes and numbers, proxy servers, RTD port. etc. Not very intuitive or easy to use for the general public, and special equipment was required.

As usual, it was someone who knew the KISS acronym, a seemingly simple piece of software that was easy to use and install on a computer, enabling users to talk computer to computer free of charge. MSN messaging, Skype and Gizmo to name just a few.

But these systems required the users to have their computers on and attached to the internet.

As more and more users embraced or took-up the VoIP systems, so manufacturers developed and enhanced such services as Skype. Providing hardware such as the DualPhone 3088, the SMC WiFi phone, which does not require a computer to be switched on, just an internet connection, wired or WiFi. In the UK one mobile service provider (3 Mobile) sells a mobile phone with Skype already installed.

But these VoIP systems, Skype, still require the vast majority of users if they want free calls to have a computer connection to make a call, plus special hardware, headsets, microphones, etc to make a call. The vast majority of people still use normal land line handsets or mobile phones to make calls.

But I have come-up with a system that enables people to keep in contact with me, my business, to keep in contact with my friends in the UK at a cheap rate.

Skype allows subscribers to get a telephone number (SkypeIn) which is a standard UK London number 020 8816 7962 (different countries and regions are also available), and when dialed, will that call be diverted to the Skype account on a internet computer or the DualPhone 3088, no matter where I am, or the Skype user, located in the world. The person dialing the “standard” land line number is unaware that it is an internet number, and is only paying the cost of a standard phone call.

What I have now done is to redirect my UK mobile phone number, 07973178602, to the SkypeIn number, 020 8816 7962, so I pay a small charge, now the call is sent to my Skype account, and if I am sitting next to my DualPhone 3088 here in Malaysia, it will ring, and I will answer it.

If I am not available, and cannot answer the DualPhone 3088, say I am out shopping, visiting or working, Skype will divert the call to my Malaysian mobile phone +6 0174491308, myself paying a small fee (Skype international call) for the privilege.

The next country I land in, perhaps Sri Lanka or Turkey, I get a mobile or use “local” sim card number, redirect Skype to that telephone number, and “Bob’s your uncle“, I have an easy to use and cheap communication system, always in contact.

Now I have another problem, people still want to telephone me from the UK at 6pm in the evening, when I am fast asleep. How can I educate them?

I will just have to switch off the phones, and allow my Skype account to take an answerphone message.

I hope you understand. At least it passed away a couple of hours writing the blog.

  Call me! on Gizmo.

Skype Me™!on Skype