Last week on this weblog, Ray mentioned how his Vonage Colorado home phone and mobile could be reached from Washington, DC using a local 202 area code that acts as a 'toll bridge' to circumvent paying distance charges and this threatens the principal redistributive purpose of telephone rates.
Indeed what Vonage and other VoIP companies are doing on a nationwide basis, Primus' Lingo VoIP service is doing worldwide. Look at their $19.99 a month plan that includes unlimited calling in the US, Canada, and Western Europe (landline only). If you call someone in Western Europe the number that will appear on that person's caller ID begins with a local European number (usually the nearest big city). So, that if I call a friend in the UK, it comes up as a London number. When they ask, "Hey are you in London? Let's meet up!" I have to respond, "No, I'm calling from an internet based phone in Washington, DC which is tricking your national PSTN system into thinking that I'm in London so that I don't have to pay any international toll charges."
Lingo doesn't stop with Europe; it also has a $34.95 a month plan that will add on eight Asian countries as well as Australia and New Zealand. For $79.95 a month it offers unlimited international calls to 35 countries worldwide. No doubt other VoIP providers will begin to offer similar plans, but Lingo has taken the lead.
Routing over the IP network is a neat little technique that illustrates quite clearly how VoIP technology is well ahead of current national based regulation regimes. This diagram below shows how a call made over a broadband line is transported via the internet (1) in IP format to a gateway in the terminating country, where it is then converted (2) to analog format and completed as a local PSTN call (3) with no international settlements paid. Cool huh?
How Lingo routes international calls: