Passing the Buck

first_img This story appears in the August 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » 3 min read If you make a lot of long-distance business calls, you probablyalready know you can save by routing them over the Internet usingVoIP technology. How would you like VoIP savings on your cellphone, too?Boca Raton, Florida-based i2 Telecom International has a new device(patent pending) that hands off cellular calls to its VoIP network,so you can save the roaming and long-distance charges still leviedunder many cellular plans. Its InternetTalker MG-3 saves still moreon calls to Canada, Mexico or overseas, where cellular carriersstill levy steep charges.About the size of a CD case, the $109 MG-3 connects to atraditional or IP phone line on one end and the router for yourbroadband connection on the other. It’s not unlike theanalog/digital converters distributed by all VoIP serviceproviders, letting any phone connect to their broadband networks.But MG-3 has the added benefit of routing cellular calls over theInternet. One prerequisite is that caller ID be activated on allthe phones involved.In a typical usage scenario, you might use your cell phone tocall overseas or a domestic number off your carrier’s network(not that you can really tell which numbers are off-network, ofcourse). Instead of dialing directly, you call the home or officeline with your MG-3. Using caller ID, the device determines thatthe call is from an authorized phone and switches you ontoi2Telecom’s VoIP network. Now you dial the long-distance numberand are connected at a much lower price than cellular rates.How much lower? Rates for some of the more popular internationaldestinations include about 3 cents per minute to the United Kingdominstead of the $3.90 per minute typical of straight cellular calls,says i2 Telecom senior vice president Rick Scherle. Per-minutecharges are roughly 3 cents to Mexico City instead of 55 cents, 5cents to China instead of $4.20, and 21 cents to India instead of$4.20.You’ll still log minutes on your cellular plan during primetime. But i2Telecom’s clock starts only if a call leaves theInternet and travels over the traditional phone system. Monthlyrates for domestic calls start at $11.95 for 300 off-networkminutes or $16.95 for 500 minutes; you can also negotiate plansbased on your company’s calling patterns.MG-3’s installation and configuration were brief andintuitive, and it works well with various office telecom equipmentlike PBXs and key sets. The device recognizes incoming calls fromup to three cell phones of any type, and, like most VoIP devices,calls between MG-3s in branch offices or key employees’ homesare completely free.There are still boundaries between different telecom networks,but an SUV-size hole gets punched in them every day.center_img August 1, 2004last_img

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