For years my family had relied on calling cards for making ‘cheap’ overseas calls. But these days most of the calling card services are notoriously unreliable and those companies downright unscrupulous – they promise you thousands of minutes, but you’d be lucky if it lasts more than an hour. Sometimes the company will even wind up before you can use your newly purchased calling card!
The good news is that there are more nimble telco providers in Australia that provide value for money. The ones that are suitable for my family’s needs are Lebara and PennyTel. Lebara offers cheap rates to overseas calls especially to landlines but with a 25c flagfall charge. PennyTel on the other hand has better rates to overseas overall and does not have any flagfall charges.
I like PennyTel for its competitive rates and its usage of standard SIP technology as its VoIP platform. SIP is available on many Nokia phones. On my N95 it is as simple as following the instructions provided on PennyTel. Then you can call any landland numbers (need use either area code + number or country code + area code + number). Receiving calls to your PennyTel number also works well (calling from a PennyTel ATA device). However, I did find that calling other PennyTel numbers (either landline or account number) using its softphone or SIP clients on my mobile did not work – it either would not connect or gave me announcements…
Using SIP on XM 5800 is another story. Although the phone does have a place for you to configure SIP settings (Menu -> Settings -> Connectivity -> Admin. Settings -> SIP Settings) but there is no built-in SIP client software. Alas, XM 5800 is not in the table. So I installed Fring on my XM 5800 and the SIP configuration is even simpler – only 3 fields to fill.
On PC (Windows 7) I have tried SIP Communicator and X-Lite. SIP Communicator supports IM and VoIP from various social networks while X-Lite is specialised in SIP. Both worked well. But X-Lite seems more polished. I have used eyeBeam – the commercial version of X-Lite for work and quite liked it – it has hundreds of parameters you can tweak provided that you know your SIP and RTP well.