Monday 28 December, 2015, 17:39 - Equipment ReviewsMaking phone calls in the UK has rarely been as cheap as it is today. Most mobile contracts provide almost limitless free UK calls and even low cost pay-as-you-go services such as those provided by GiffGaff offer plenty of bundled call minutes.
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However, calling from fixed-lines remains relatively expensive. Though the fixed line operators provide packages with bundles of calls, these are surprisingly costly and without these packages, the call rates are often high. The table below sets out the relative costs of different phone (and broadband) packages from some of the bigger suppliers, based on someone making one hour of phone calls a month (to a fixed line), an hour per week and one hour of phone calls a day (to a fixed line).
|Operator||Cost per minute||Cost per month|
|Unlimited Package*||(60 mins per month)||(60 mins per week)||(60 mins per day)|
* Additional monthly cost for unlimited calls over and above standard package
It is absolutely clear, therefore, that anyone who makes more than cursory use of their fixed line (to call other fixed lines) should be taking the operators' all inclusive packages for calls as the break-even point is arond the one hour of calls per month level (or two minutes per day).
But the situation becomes far more complicated in the case that anyone wishes to make international calls whether from a fixed line or a mobile. International calls are generally far more expensive than domestic fixed line calls and though some operators offer bundles of minutes for some destinations, and even though there are a myriad of calling cards and other methods for reducing the cost of calls, they tend to be complicated to use.
At the Wireless Waffle HQ, calls to UK fixed lines, as well as to international destinations, are a day-to-day requirement and the cost of these calls was becoming significant. At the same time, a method which allows these calls to be made whilst being so user friendly that it was no different to a standard phone was essential to ensure that the rest of the residents of the HQ did not have to dial short-codes or press extra buttons when making a call.
The answer came in the form of the Gigaset N300IP DECT base station, teamed with a matching DECT handset (such as the Gigaset A510). This canny device allows a standard fixed-line and a Voice over IP (VoIP) line to be integrated seamlessly. What this means is that incoming calls (on either line) ring the phone as usual, but that outgoing calls go via the VoIP line. VoIP has been around for a long time - it uses the Internet to make phone calls. Years ago, the quality was poor and calls somewhat unreliable but today with a reasonable broadband connection, the quality is excellent and most importantly, the call rates are cheap - very cheap.
The VoIP provider used at the WW HQ is Miso Comms. Whilst there are endless VoIP providers available, some of who are even cheaper than Miso for certain calls, the company is run by a team of telecommunications professionals who really know what they are doing. Of course they're out to make a profit just as anyone else, but with such a credible background, the service and prices are both excellent. Most international calls are under 2p per minute and UK fixed line calls are just 0.63p per minute (e.g. 38 pence per hour) and the call quality is far better than many VoIP services that we at WW have tried in the past. What's more, in addition to using their service on the Gigaset unit, it can also be programmed into mobile phones (using the SIP protocol) and an app such as CSipSimple such that these low call rates can also be used from a mobile device connected to, for example WiFi. This means the low cost calls can be made from just about anywhere with a decent internet connection and not just home.
The Gigaset units will set you back around œ70 for the base-station and the handset together which amounts to around a full year's subscription to unlimited calls from the main phone providers. But for international calls, the savings clock up virtually immediately. In most cases, anyone making 60 minutes per month of international calls will pay for the equipment in less than a year and in many cases, much more quickly. If you just put the CSipSimple app on your phone, the savings are instantaneous. If you have family around the world (or around the corner), why not give VoIP a go.