A company in Iowa called Future Phone is offering “free” international phone calls, where you call one of their numbers, then punch in the number of the phone you want to call in up to 50+ countries. You do need to pay whatever you pay for a domestic long distance call to a number in Iowa (assuming you don’t live within local calling distance of the gateway access numbers Future Phone is advertising,) but you don’t pay for the international call itself. How come?
The short answer is probably “It’s not really free, but you’ve already paid for it,” and has to do with what are called access fees. When you make a domestic long distance call in the US, you indirectly pay a terminating “access charge” to the carrier who owns the last mile connection to whomever you are calling. Usually, these fees are a fraction of a penny, but some rural phone service providers (like in Iowa) are allowed to charge much higher access fees because, in the view of the regulators, the rural carriers need this indirect subsidy. All the long-distance carriers pay this and build it into their pricing structure, so the costs are spread across their entire subscriber base. So, even if you never use this service, you’ve paid for it. But we’re still talking only pennies per person per call so nobody really kicks about it on the consumer end. Future Phone is most likely making enough money to cover their expenses and make a nice profit through the higher rates they charge your telephone company (and you, since the cost gets passed to you.) Without the regulators allowing the higher termination fees, Future Phone probably wouldn’t have been able to offer this service.
What’s this all mean? It means an international phone call for the price of a long-distance domestic call. If you have a rate plan with your phone provider where you pay a set rate for unlimited domestic long-distance, it means you can get international calling to the nations covered by Future Phone for no additional cost. There is the possibility that mobile phones aren’t covered by this arrangement (it can vary by country) but it should work for all landlines.
Because I work at an unnamed government agency, who gave me Veteran’s Day off instead, I’m in the office today. This is pretty much our quietest day of the year, as it seems everyone who’d normally call us has chosen to take today off on vacation. Can you blame them? It’s the day after Thanksgiving, everybody’s off. Except, of course, me and my co-workers.
On a non-work matter, over lunch I stopped by the Apple Store in the mall nearby and picked up a lovely burgundy laptop sleeve that should fit La’s 12″ PowerBook G4.
Because it’s a lazy Sunday, I’m posting some photos of Joise, the greatest cat in the world.
In the wake of the move and consolidation of both of my former blogs into this one on WordPress, I’m slowly but surely going through all of my old LiveJournal entries (now living in the archives of this blog) and categorizing of all of them. No real reason, I just don’t like them being listed as “Uncategorized.” However, that’s not the most interesting task on Earth, so I got diverted onto other problems that I’ve been working on, on and off, for the past few months.
The main problem I’ve been having is making OS X Server’s VPN service work through the firewall on my internet connection. Apple does provide a list of what network ports are used by their services on OS X and OS X Server and it’s been an invaluable reference, but I always seemed to be *this* close to making it work without ever having it work. Today, finally, it now works. One thing to check off the list. For those that are interested, here are the ports that I opened to make both PPTP and L2TP VPNs work through the firewall on my Linksys router:
You also need to have GRE working in order to have a PPTP server working. This isn’t a port you can open on your firewall, unfortunately, but it should work as long as you have the right ports open.
Other than that, it was a pretty quiet day. I also got the Net::SSLeay Perl module installed on the server that I’m running Webmin on, which was a prerequisite for SSL-enabled logins for Webmin, so I’ve finally got secure logins up on working on my Webmin installation. The trick was to install the module using CPAN in Terminal, instead of using Webmin to install it.
I’ve been meaning to make some changes to this blog, as I wanted to start using some features (blogrolling, better RSS support, spam filtering, etc) that weren’t available from Mac OS X Server’s blog server. So I’ve migrated over to WordPress and brought in both my 10.4 blog server and LiveJournal entries. Hope everyone likes the new look.
The networks are saying that the Maryland governor and Senate races are stick-a-fork-in-‘em done, with wins in both races for the Ds. Based on the returns I’m seeing on both CNN’s county-by-county breakdown and the Washington Post’s coverage, both the Steele and Ehrlich campaigns would be foolish to toss in the towel now. The networks may yet wind up with egg on their faces tonight.