You Can Make Free International Calls
Free international calls are telephone calls from one country to another without having to pay the phone company long-distance charges. It wasn’t really too long ago when one had to dial the telephone operator in one’s country and ask to be connected to a party overseas. The local operator would contact the overseas operator who would then contact the party being called. Because of the process and the state of the communications infrastructure, this would normally take a while and the cost would be rather high.
With the advancements in technology, the situation has undergone a drastic change and making free international calls is now a common practice. To fully appreciate this, it helps to understand how international calls are made. These calls are handled by “switches” or international gateways through which the calls are passed by cable, satellite, radio or the internet. Either the caller or the party called is then charged by the phone company for the cost of the call.
The first step towards making free international calls was the introduction of the toll-free telephone number, commonly known as the “1-800” or “freecall” number. Originally conceived by telephone companies to reduce the number of long-distance telephone operators, the freecall was a number specially assigned by the phone company whereby the party called pays for the phone charges instead of the calling party. It has become a popular tool for businesses as part of their customer service programs.
Recently, however, with the rapid advances in internet technology, many companies have started to offer ways to make free international calls. The main tool for making free international calls is the internet, through internet technology that is known as VoIP for “voice over internet protocol” With VoIP, the telephone call bypasses the standard telephone system and connects one party with a party in another country via the internet, often on their respective computers. Interesting enough, VoIP is also one of the methods used by telephone companies to provide international telephone services, but for a fee.
Making free international calls was first popularized by Skype, a software application that enabled voice, and later video, communications among subscribers of the service for free. In 2010, there were almost 700 million registered Skype users in almost every major country around the world which allow internet access. In the Skype network, making free international calls is done through computers. A user registers with the Skype network and is able to talk to another Skype user via that person’s computer. For a fee, a Skype user may also make a call via the telephone to a Skype number in another country. Skype has become such a powerful force in international communications that in 2011, the Microsoft Corporation purchased the company for US$8.5 billion.