Wednesday, March 18, 2009

How To Reduce International Calling Costs

How do you lower international calling costs by a hardware solution? By hardware solution, I mean a method that does NOT include simply getting better rates from a carrier.

I'm thinking along the lines of a SIP gateway which interfaces with an international VoIP calling service. The key here is to deploy a solution which integrates with an existing PBX allowing international dialing via regular handsets.

Well, it sounds like a first step might be to install Trixbox on a virtual machine. From that point, you need a SIP account (Gizmo provides an affordable starter service until you discover exactly what you need). You will also need a hardware interface to your PBX -- the Trixbox and Gizmo community forums have reviews for a number of devices -- even some that can trunk Skype calls through the system as well.

A lot of people just purchase hardware adapters for Skype, which does give you affordable international calling -- but Trixbox will give you MUCH more control over your entire voice system, allowing you to integrate POTS with SIP and Skype, and whatever else you want to add into the mix (Microsoft Messenger, etc.). It also integrates your email system so that voicemails are linked to individuals' email accounts, and it can run an (international) automated call centre for you on the side.

An alternate method is adding a service like GrandCentral (by Google) to the mix; I've a colleague who uses it to have local phone numbers across the US, even though he's in a different country. People can call their local number and the GrandCentral routing system can intelligently route it to the appropriate phone or voicemail (or both). Unfortunately, GrandCentral is closed to the public at the moment. It's probably the easiest way to handle inbound long distance calling, as there is no additional hardware needed and minimal configuration.

If all of that sounds too "techie" to you ..... the old stand by is always available. Just get the best rate from whatever provider will give it to you. To see what options you may have try out the Best Rate Calculaltor feature here: Cheap International Calling

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