If you’re prepared to do a bit of work then getting cheap calls is relatively easy. There’s a range of solutions if you have a mobile handset, and when you’ve got an internet connection then everything becomes either extremely cheap or totally free. Having a call package with a billion minutes included is nothing new either, and if you’re looking for a home phone package then that’ll probably be included in some TV / broadband package.
Data, though, can be a tricky subject. When you’re using your mobile it becomes the lifeblood for a lot of VoIP and WiFi-calling solutions. Sitting in a cafe and making a free call might seem like an ideal solution, but you’ll usually find that the WiFi is over-subscribed and of questionable quality. Mobile data can be a way around this, but you have to keep within your data limits and travelling abroad means a much higher data cost. Reading a tweet is going to cost you money, so don’t even think about calling or sending pictures and videos home.
Some providers, like Three, have made great strides to give their customers a way around this. Just recently FreedomPop announced that they were offering completely free data across the US and Europe, with Asia and Latin America on the horizon.
It sometimes requires a bit of investigation and research, but there’s usually ways to not run up a big bill when you want to stay connected, no matter where you are. That’s a good thing, and we’re here to dig out those methods so that you don’t bust your data allowance, spend lots on roaming charges or send expensive MMS picture messages.
For businesses things are a little more tricky. They can sort out their mobile phones fairly easily, but choosing the right business telephone system can be a bit of a costly and complicated process. I know, because I’ve been trying it myself.
If you’re thinking of starting up a business and want present yourself as being in one office with one location, there’s a way to do it, even if there’s (let’s say) three of you sitting in your bedrooms in different locations. Starting your own business doesn’t mean just having random mobile phone numbers on a website. You need to present a slick and organised shop window so that customers are confident that you can deliver.
Perhaps one of the quickest ways to do it is via a hosted PBX. In effect it’s a phone system in “the cloud” that grabs calls for your advertised landline number. It’ll then route calls over the internet to your VoIP phone in your bedroom. It could just be you and nobody else running a business, but you don’t want to be giving out your home phone number or sticking a redirect on your home phone to your mobile while you nip out to get milk. No. Instead you get a virtual switchboard that you control, routing calls through to your mobile or the internet phone in your home office.
You’ll have full control and you can add extensions as your company grows. No PSTN or ISDN lines, and all the calls within your company are completely free, so you can call your colleagues for nothing – just as if you were in the same office. Transfer calls, play hold music, put a call in a queue, enable voicemail and start a conference call. It’s all possible.
All this can be done through a “softphone”, which is a bit of software on your laptop. You just plug in a headset. You can also use a VoIP app on your phone to answer and make calls – just as if it was a desk phone. The costs are really cheap too – just £1 per month in some instances.
I’ll be bringing you more information on this soon, but whether you have a business already (and want to save costs or make things a bit more professional) or you’re thinking of starting your own company, take a look a the latest hosted PBX systems out there.