UK uses the CPP (calling party pays) system where the caller is charged for dialing the mobile number; the answering party pays nothing – incoming calls to UK mobiles are free to the person called. As it is always the case with CPP countries, per-minute rates to mobile numbers are quite high, much higher than cost of a landline call.
In fact, the difference may be staggering: from $0.02 per minute London, UK fixed line to $0.40 and higher per minute to mobile networks in the United Kingdom. Bear this in mind when you sign up for many of the home ATA providers out there like Vonage and Broadvoice – while calls to UK landlines are included in the monthly charge, mobiles are not!
OPTION 1: Call override. Override companies in the UK: specialist cheap override phone companies offer pre-select codes to reduce your BT charges (applies only if you’re in the UK physically). These allow you to really cut the cost of calls to mobiles – without changing carrier and without applying for an account. Only works for some, rates are not that great.
OPTION 2: Skype and such. While Skype offers excellent options to communicate to your loved ones via video and long distance calls, their per-minute rates to mobile numbers are not really that low. $0.29/min to all UK networks… that is not cheap at all in 2010. Same is the case with Broadvoice and Vonage: $0.28 and up per minute. A quick search for a major SIP providers out there gives us a selection of $0.25 to $0.40 pricing – with one of the cheapest being Voipjet – in fact, that’s an IAX2-based provider that requires you to have your own Asterisk server.
OPTION 3: Calling cards. Calling cards are a very convenient – and prepaid – option to make occasional international calls; however, there are many potential problems, sometimes making calling cards inefficient.
– access numbers may be not local to you
– you are sometimes paying for your outbound call anyways
– tricky rates and small print: calls are charged in 3 or even 6 minute increments
– maintenance fee is deducted from your prepaid balance every day
– quality is sometimes below acceptable
One the oldest and most reputable calling cards providers is IDT, a US-based company. They offer a huge selection of various calling card products on their website. You can filter out the unwanted options like maintenance fee and 3-minute rounding to find the best rate. Still, search reveals a rather rate of $0.21 per minute.
OPTION 4: Breakout-based provider – clear winner.
The problem with all 3 calling options is the lack of breakouts. Breakout refers to specific destination you are calling. Just like the Moon is not made of green cheese, not all UK mobile numbers are properly called simply “UK mobile”. There are Vodafone, Orange, H3G, T-mobile and other networks, and the correct destination is, for example, “United Kingdom mobile, Vodafone” if you are calling a number like +447501XXXXXX. All these different numbers cost differently for your provider to terminate, and they simply charge you one averaged out rate – not always the best – for everything. You lose by helping the carrier offset their route costs.
Typically, only large international carriers exchange voice traffic based on breakouts, but several providers now exist that give away this previously unheard of rate principle to the regular home user. For example, Finarea, PTL and DID Logic.com simply take their entire wholesale rate sheet and allow you to use it, making the long distance charges extremely economical. You are still making the call through the same national carriers like BT or Deutsche Telecom, but your rate is significantly lower because you are charged based on the network you are really calling. For example, UK O2 mobiles are $0.08/minute at didlogic.com – because they break UK down to real, actual mobile networks and charge you accordingly. Here’s a quick comparison to illustrate the benefits of the breakout pricing:
Again didlogic.com comes up trumps here costing as little as $0.08/min to UK mobiles – a massive saving over Skype and others. However, you can pay an even smaller total per month if you combine DID Logic with other long distance options with unlimited landline offers.