With no computer to phone calls, video chat and text chat, Freephone2phone cannot be called a Skype alternative, but with the holidays around the corner, the service is more than worthy of attention:
Christmas and New Years, the busiest calling days of the year, are coming up and both Google Voice and Skype don’t allow free phone calls around the world, but ad-based provider Freephone2phone does, – CEO Warner Johnson told us about his new startup.
What you have to know is that Freephone2phone only works if calls originate in the US, and you cannot use it without a caller ID. From here, you can use either a land line or a mobile phone. To enjoy the service, you’ll dial a local phone number that grands you “access” to Freephone2phone. You will pay for this call as you would normally do with your phone carrier. Once you are “in” you get free long distance and cellular phone calls. International calls are free as well, and they can last up to 10 minutes for each number you dial.
To monetize these free calls, Freephone2phone runs short ads at the beginning of your conversation – and there is no way around them. To enjoy a free international call you have to listen, and you’ll be connected only when the ad ends. A possible con is that the calls can only last up to 10 minutes, meaning: be brief, or be interrupted: 30 seconds before your call is disconnected you’ll hear short warning sounds. And you cannot call the same number twice to enjoy 20 minutes of conversation. You’ll have to call it three times: to discourage abuse, if you make a call lasting between 5 and 10 minutes during a day, every subsequent call to that particular number on that day is limited to 5 minutes each. You’ll only get 10 full minutes the next day and you can still call make 10-minute calls to other numbers during that day.
The business model is interesting, the name if not the most fortunate. As long as you have to pay for “access,” the service cannot be called free. It can be called affordable, low cost, and yes, alternative. It is not a Skype alternative, as it is not a VoIP solution, and it lacks many other features enjoyed by PC and Mac users.
In their own words: We’re something new, not a VoIP company — we’re a new type of media channel. You might call us the “talk-on-the-phone” channel. Simply by dialing one of our access numbers (editor note: paid) on your mobile, we’ll soon bring you a whole bunch of new free services.
So, while using Freephone2phone is not “free” it can save you a great deal on your phone bill. As an example (from the Freephone2phone FAQ), if you are paying 10 cents a minute for US long distance from you landline and Freephone2phone has a local access number for your city, then you will save $1.00 on each call. If there is no local access number for your city or location, you should not use Freephone2phone for your long distance calls from your land-line or you might incur a standard regional or long distance charge.
For your international calls from your cellular phone or land-line, you can easily save $2.00 per call using Freephone2phone. You can use your standard cellular plan minutes to access Freephone2phone, but you would not pay the $0.20 per minute on average charged by US cellular providers for international calls.
Last but not least, remember that this is not the only service of its kind, maybe one of the most affordable. Competitors include:
- iCall – free internet phone calls, requires software download and is only available in US and Canada,
- EvaPhone (free VoIP service that lets you make PC-to-phone free international calls – almost everywhere in the world, however very brief),
- Tuitalk (free international and domestic phone calls to over 40 countries – requires software download, and the only one available for iPhone & iPod Touch),
- Gmail calling (PC-to-phone, U.S. and Canada free),
- Freebuzzer (free internet calls to more than 40 destinations – no download, and no registration – however calls can only be brief – 2-3 minutes max),
- Jaxtr (same model as Freephone2phone, without the ads),
- VoipBuster (free for a total of 60 minutes, and you can only call the destinations marked as free),
- Talkster (premium service, however low cost and with free international calls between 50+ countries), and
- PhoneHog (free, and like Freephone2phone, ad based).
Whatever you choose, it’s good to know that there are some services enabling you to cut costs on your phone bill these holidays. Happy saving!