Thursday, September 11, 2008

May I interest you in some VOIP (Voice over IP)?

I'm sorry if this post went blank the first time around. It slipped out of my hands before I had even typed it. In one night of enlightment I came up with 5 topics to talk about and just did the sketches of each so I wouldn't forget them and this one got the send button instead of the save button.

Well, on with the show.

I've recently read several blogs about my debt situation. I'm glad to see that for the most part I'm doing what they advice to do. I'm failing in making a budget and with the extra income trouble I've had problem working on paying the smallest debt with all the money I could (because I don't have it in my hands yet).

One thing I read was about getting other income sources. Using my background on networking and Voice over Ip I've hooked up a few friends that have relatives in the US with VERY cheap voice over ip services in their homes.

Voice over ip is basically talking over the internet. The cool part is being able to use regular phones and be able to receive or make calls to and from regular phones or cellphones in the US.

Most of Hondurans living in the US don't have access to a computer, but most do carry a cellphone, the prepaid kind. Calls within the US are very cheap compared to calls to Honduras.

So I've acquired US numbers in bulk and re-selling them to friends. They way this works is that the person in Honduras has a little box called ATA (analog telephone adapter) that connects a regular phone (cord or cordless) to the internet. Obviously the user must have internet service in their house with at least 128kbps of bandwidth so that the voice works fine.For $60 for the box and a $10 monthly fee they get a US number in the Washington state area. This means that if someone in the US calls one of those numbers it will ring on the phone attached to the ATA, wherever it is located in the world.

This is different to the illegal practice in Honduras of "grey calls" in which a local US call is converted to an international call to Honduras because no Honduran telephone infrastructure is used. The phone in Honduras is connected "directly" to the internet. Cyber cafes in Honduras all work this way, except they sell outgoing calls, while I sell incoming calls.

The logic behind my sale strategy is that calling the US is so cheap for us from regular landlines or cellphones while calling to Honduras from abroad is so expensive that it merits spending a fixed amount of money to have a US phone number that only receives calls if you can expect a lot of calls from people in the US. So far my first 3 sales have gone very well because the people in the US have seen the savings. Great savings.

Calling cards to call Honduras usually charge $1 just to connect the call and about 20 to 40 US cents per minute. So a $3 dollar call is only good for $2 once the call is connected. Not to mention the troubles if the call gets cut off in the middle of it. Dialing again means another $1 just for connecting the call.

$10/mo for unlimited incoming calls is a lot better than paying $30/mo to companies like Vonage. Sure they let you have unlimited calls to the US, but again in this case you can just call the person in the US and say "call me back" and it's the same thing. Why is it the same thing?

a) There's a ton of studies that say that most people in the US now have a cellphone and use it instead of a landline.

b) incoming and outgoing calls to cellphone are billed to the cellphone user. So for the user it costs the same to make a call than to receive a call.

Even so, I had one friend that wanted to be able to make some business calls to the US. I was able to get him a service that for another $10/mo he could have 5 hours a week of calls to the US. That's comes to about 2 cents per minute. If he goes over the 5 hours per week, each minute extra is 2 cents per minute and comes out of his $10 pre-payment. In his case I set up the ATA's second port with another phone and so one phone is for incoming calls and the other is for outgoing calls. So he can receive a call one one phone and make a call on the other phone. Alternatively he could use a two-line phone and manage both from one device but that's up to him.

I also got a hold of a great virtual PBX . So if one business has offices in distant locations, and each location has internet access, I can set them up with dedicated virtual phone lines between the two offices. This can work anywhere in the world and it's simple to set up (if you know what I know) and the number of calls between offices is unlimited...really.

This is also allowed by Honduran telecom law because it's only calls within the same organization. Banks that have branches in several cities already do this. They do it thru their private data network. My proposal is much cheaper since it uses internet and doesn't require costly hardware to interconnect it all. We have one private telephone network here at my office and it was mildly expensive to say the least. I learned a lot from it and know it can be done for a lot less money.

I've tested this by putting virtual extensions in my office, my house, my parent's house and my friend's house in Missouri. They can all call each other by dialing their extension number and talk forever.

I've searched the net for a company that could something like what i'm proposing and found only one that was a little close to my price range for the same funcionality. They are

They are comparable to what I can do but I can give personalized service and I already have better prices and can improve on them depending on how much business is involved. Even if users eventually don't like my service they can take the same equipment and get service with them. I'm all for making the customer happy, even if it means happy with someone else. I checked that they use VOIP industry standards and they do, just like I do.

SO, if you know anyone that wants to reduce their international phone bill or someone with a business with two or more locations that wants to lower it's intra-offices phone bill, please let me know and I promise I can help them with that. I'll help myself in the process and you would've helped me to get out of debt. If you give me your contact info I will also help you with a "finder's fee" and we are all happy :-)

Oh well, at least this blog is free.


Jacinta Mucosa said...

Keep up the good work. It's great to see you take advantage of the possible business avenues and to see you offer things that really are in demand. I'm a regular viewer of Suze Orman so I'll keep an eye out for suggestions for debt management.

AJ said...


Thank you for visiting my blog. I'm definitely exploring all source of income and diversifying so that i don't depend on a single source. It's a slow start but I have to start somewhere. Just today I researched some more regarding VOIP services to Honduran phones.

La Gringa said...

Best of luck to you in your new business! It definitely sounds like something with a big demand and something that you know a lot about. Getting the word out about what you have to offer will be the challenge.

AJ said...

Yeah, I know that getting the word out will be the hard part. I'm counting on friends and family to help me here in Honduras.

I'm also exploring other voip services for stores in the US. My BIL has that service up there. There are pretty cheap rates to call Honduras. Some even cheaper than calling from right here!

I'm searching yellowpages and other business listings for businesses that have the name catracho, honduras, catracha, etc.

I got a pretty big list. Now I have to make up a good business proposition, taking care of everything needed. At least I have good voip providers too that help me as much as they can.

Anonymous said...

Umm, be very careful with VOIP, According to Hondutel, and Chimirri, this is against the law in Honduras. Although I know it most definitely is NOT against the law, that didn't stop Chimirri from sending the district attorney to shut down the company I worked for, WITHOUT A WARRANT, and contacting local media to broadcast the whole thing on TV to humiliate my boss.

Hondutel stole millions of dollars in equipment from us, and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in lost sales, and almost bankrupted the company and my boss. He has since sued and won against Hondutel, but the same president is sitting in careful.

AJ said...

Oh i'm clear that I have to stay away from Hondutel's radar. So i'm not planning at all to connect my VOIP service to the Honduran PSTN.

I know that if they wanted they could still come and destroy everything first and ask questions later, it's a risk i'll have to take. On the other hand I actually don't have a "place" they could come to destroy since the service is hosted somewhere in cyberspace and not in Honduras.

Thanks for the warning I have and will keep it mind not to piss off Hondutel.

Anonymous said...

That's good, I wouldn't like to see another victim go down.

BTW; I meant millions of dollars in equipment, and hundreds of millions of LEMPIRAS in lost sales, sorry.

cheap voice over said...

I would say that if they wanted they could still come and destroy everything first and ask questions later, it's a risk i'll have to take. On the other hand I actually don't have a "place" they could come to destroy since the service is hosted somewhere in cyberspace and not in Honduras.