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October 14, 2006

"Free" international phone calls with Futurephone

Cheap phone calls are a little off my beaten path, but I was interested in the story of Futurephone:

The first question most people seem to ask when they hear about is: What’s the catch?

It turns out there really isn’t much of one. Eventually — though not yet — you’ll have to listen to a short commercial before your call goes through.

Futurephone, a California startup company, has, for the last three weeks, been offering you the chance to call a number in Iowa, then enter a number you’re trying to reach in any of 50 other countries, and — bingo — you’re on the phone to Shanghai. Or Warsaw. Or Christmas Island.

We tried it, and it works. You call 712-858-8883, and a recorded voice answers, inviting you to hear brief instructions in English, Spanish or Chinese. Then you dial 011, the country code (51 for Peru, for instance, or 359 for Bulgaria) and the local number. If someone is there and awake to answer at the other end, you can talk to the other side of the planet — for whatever it cost you to make a call to Iowa.

What makes it all work is that the price of phone calls has been dropping dramatically, particularly since Futurephone uses VoIP to route the calls. They figure that they can make enough selling 10 second ads before each call to pay for the call and make a profit.

As for the Futurephone phone number in Iowa:

Where, by the way, are you calling when you reach 712-858-8883? It turns out to be an exchange in Superior, Iowa, a town of 142 people on the Iowa-Minnesota border. But Doolin says that’s simply a number his firm was able to use to route calls inexpensively.

More details at the Futurephone website.

Posted at 8:09 pm. Filed under Brands, Cheap calling, Futurephone, Internet, Telephone, VoIP

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2 Responses to “"Free" international phone calls with Futurephone”

  1. hmatura Says:

    Interesting…Worth mentioning for those not so keen in new technologies that “10-10″ long distance services are also a very popular an easy alternative to enjoy cheap long distance calls. How it works? You simply dial the “10-10″ plan’s 7-digit access code, and then the area code and number you wish to call – and receive the discounted rates offered by the “10-10″ company. This is an easy way to take advantage of lower rates – without having to sign-up, internet or switching your long distance company. The Internet is a great resource for finding the rates and numbers of “10-10″ companies in your area.

    For example, you can now call Australia, Canada and most European countries for only 1¢ per minute by simply calling 1010228 before each call (e.g. 1010228 + 011 + country code + number you wish to call). is one of the leading discount “10-10″ numbers in the US for interstate and international calls.

  2. AT&T shuts down Iowa free international phone call services -- Cool Tech Reviews Says:

    [...] Back in October, I mentioned a phone service called Futurephone that used a loophole in the heavily regulated US long distance telephone rate structure plus cheap Internet bandwidth to provide “free” ad-supported phone calls to numerous foreign countries via a rural telephone company in Iowa. Soon other entrepreneurs jumped on board and there were a number of “712″ (the rural Iowa area code) calling services, but it all came crashing to halt this month when AT&T got a phone bill for $2 million dollars and sued: Guess who got stuck with a big bill for all those “free” international calls touted by outfits like FuturePhone? None other than AT&T, which has filed a lawsuit in Iowa claiming that “deceitful and unlawful schemes” like FuturePhone’s caused a jump from $2,000 per month to $2 million per month in the fees billed AT&T by an Iowa rural telco. [...]

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