Phone Cards - Be Certain What You're Buying

Phone cards are an excellent way to stay in touch with family and friends without ending up with an astronomical phone bill at the end of the month. But before you choose the phone card that seems to be the cheapest available, be sure you know all the details of how that particular phone card works.

Some phone card companies have a service charge for each call you make using the card. That means that you'll lose several minutes each time you use the card - typically anywhere from four minutes to eight or even ten. If you have a phone card company touting their "three-cent a minute" rates, be sure of their service charges. If you're also losing an additional ten minutes for every connection you make, the rates go up considerably.

One gimmick used by phone card companies is that they give you a price "per unit" instead of "per minute." The significance is that there are different costs for different phone calls. You may pay only a penny or two per unit, but you may find that you're being charged several units per minute. For example, if you pay two cents per unit and you're phone call costs ten units per minute, you're paying twenty cents a minute - significantly higher than the many reputable phone cards. Per unit cards may very well be a good deal, but find out how many units you can expect to pay for phone calls before you shell out the money for one of these cards.

Rechargeable phone cards are sometimes an excellent deal because the additional minutes you purchase are often cheaper than the original cost of the card. If you think about it, it's fairly easy to see why. Instead of buying another pieces of plastic, you're simply buying the service - less cost to the company.

Buying larger amounts is also typically a good way to get the best deal on a phone card. Companies typically offer a better price per minute if you purchase a card with two or more hours of calling time than for a card with only a half hour. Again, it's a simple matter of marketing and you can see that the cost of producing the plastic card is a factor in that cost.

There's no doubt that phone cards are a good way to stay in touch, especially in some situations. Taking time to choose a reliable company for your phone card purchase is an important step in being sure you make the best selection for your phone card company provider.


posted by daku @ 11:54 AM, ,

Top 10 Dangers of Mobile Phone Usage

Society is becoming more aware about the dangers of mobile phones. Dangerous social behavior. Serious device-related health risks. Various scams sprung upon them by companies operating in the telecoms market.

Based on an extensive analysis of online UK users, the following list highlights the core fears people have related to the use of wireless technology.

1. Mobile Abuse on youths including their exposure to inappropriate content and potential pedophilia attacks

2. Physical Health Dangers from mobile usage such as exposure to wireless smog and phone masts or heat from device panels and batteries

3. Violent Crime including random mobile theft, pre-meditated assault filming or extortion for individual's bank account details

4. Mobile Bullying such as the sending of aggressive or intimidating messages from peers in the schoolyard or work place

5. Terrorist Acts including bomb detonation and even loud and/or threatening conversations in public places such as packed trains

6. Operator Scams including opt-in subscriptions tricks and corrupt TV call-in and voting competitions

7. Intrusive Marketing (also called "mobile spam") of betting/gaming, pornography or offensive content sent via SMS or Bluetooth

8. Accidents incurred while using mobile device such as driving or even talking while walking down the street

9. Privacy Invasion leveraging “Big Brother” - like tools such as operator-centric GPS systems to track individual’s whereabouts

10. Messaging Hoaxes including prank faux terror threats or health scares via SMS


posted by daku @ 2:24 AM, ,

Phone Calls From Your Computer

If you have a computer, a headset, and an internet connection, you can make free PC to PC phone calls to anyone in the world! The only catch is that the person you are calling must also have an active account with the same VoIP service provider, and must be online to get the call. With any VoIP service, "in-network" calling (all callers subscribing to the same carrier) is always free, but most providers require that you pay a small monthly fee which allows you to make "out-of-network" calls as well.

There are several internet phone service providers that offer PC based phone calling, but only a few do not require a monthly service fee when you register. Because the PC to PC calling service is free, you may have to put up with ads on your dial pad or be limited to a certain call length, but for a free long distance call this is probably acceptable to most people. If you want to make calls to a landline phone, you can do so by paying a low cost per minute (much less than traditional long distance).

So here's how to make free PC to PC phone calls:

Choose a provider, then download and install their free software (the software is a "dial pad" that you use to make calls).
Register and get an account (you need to have a valid email address).
Make sure the people you want to call install the software and register with the same VoIP provider.
Enter your friends usernames into your contact list, and ask that they do the same (this allows you to see that they are online and able to accept calls).
Plug your headset (with microphone) into the appropriate in/out audio jacks on your computer (or USB port if applicable).
Click on your contact and make a call - that's all there is to it!

Since PC to PC calling uses a technology similar to instant messaging, most VoIP provider's software allows you to text message the person you are talking to. Conference calling is also possible - just click on another active user and they can join in the call!

As of this writing, here are some VoIP providers I found that offer free PC to PC internet phone calls with no monthly fees. Because services can change from time to time, make sure you agree with the terms and conditions before creating an account. Skype is the largest and most well known provider with over 190 million downloads to date.

As with any software, your computer must meet certain requirements in order for the installation to succeed. As a general rule, your computer should have at minimum a 400 MHz processor, 10 MB of free disk space and 128 MB of RAM. You also need a sound card, and either a headset with microphone or speakers and a microphone. Of course, you need an internet connection as well. Software is available for PC, Mac and Linux platforms. Skype has software for Pocket PC as well.

PC based VoIP will work fine over a dial up connection of at least 33.6 Kbps, but be sure to close all email applications and don't do any web surfing while talking because these processes will degrade performance. For the absolute best internet phone calling experience, broadband is the way to go.

Free software-based PC to PC internet phone service is a great way to "test the waters" if you are interested in trying VoIP before jumping into a paid service. It's also perfect if you're on a tight budget and want to make some free long distance calls. Anyone in the world can use VoIP as long as they have an internet connection; just make sure all your friends and relatives use the same carrier if you want to keep the calls free.

This type of VoIP service is not compatible with 911, so it should not be used as your one and only phone. If you want save a lot of money on your phone bill and use VoIP as your primary phone, consider subscribing to a hardware-based VoIP carrier like Packet8, Vonage, Lingo.

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posted by daku @ 12:57 AM, ,

VoIP - The Internet Telephony

Have you ever wondered how it would be wonderful to use your internet connection for your phone calls, saving you tons of money for your long distance communications?

Actually, this technology exists! And you will keep hearing about it just more and more.

VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, which converts audio signal into small data fragments called packets. These packets are sent over the internet and then reassembled and transformed back into audio at the end source. The process is kind of the same that is used for sending emails. Fast, reliable and very economic.

Why switch to VoIP?

First of all, no standard telephone providers can compete with the VoIP providers low prices. Even if they wanted to, their system is just a too cost hungry structure. This technology is very cost effective for the companies providing it. At the bottom line, you, the costumer, are able to realise huge savings over your phone bills.

Receive your local calls, wherever you travel around the world, with the same number you have at home. Sounds great? This is just another advantage VoIP technology offers. You can even stay with the exact number you have right now if you want to. Just plug into a high speed internet connection, anywhere on the planet, anytime, and voilà!

Then you have options. Many of them. Not with charges for each and every single one you want. With the Voip phone providers, it all comes in the same package:

Who are the providers?

There is a lot of competition in this specific market. The first thing you need to know before you adhere to their services is that you'll need a high-speed connection to get the most out of it. Don't go for less than a cable or DSL broadband connection.

Some companies are more up front then others in this very fast growing market, and offer the best value money that one can get.


Basically, Skype provides a software that you download on your computer. To be able to call someone else, this person has to have the same software installed prior to be receiving a call. The basic option is free to download, and you are charged only for the options that you want, like voice mail or video conferencing for example. There is also have an option called Skype out, which offers you the possibility to contact any telephone line, without needing the end user to have the basic program installed.

If you would prefer something working similar to your standard telephone hardware, there are some broadband phone providers like Vonage, Packet 8 and Sun Rocket that offer you the real stuff.

It's actually very simple: they send you a modem with a hardware telephone, which comes with all the options for a very little price. You can contact who you want anytime, anywhere, just like a “real” telephone line would do.

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posted by daku @ 12:30 AM, ,