Futurephone Controversy - Including Free Calls to Switzerland — by CAROLINE TELFORD
With the rise of cheap international calls, followed closely by internet calls that are completely free for computer to computer connections, there seems no end in sight as to how far such things can go. Recently, there has been much furor over a company, futurephone.com, which has been offering purportedly completely free calls from the United States to any landline in 54 countries worldwide. Initially, many feared that it was a scam, as most offers that sound too good to be true on the internet generally are, however the truth that was to unfold was far more interesting.
Too good to be true, yet true all the same… in a fashion
The few and the brave that did try futurephone's services were shocked to discover that it really did offer free phone calls as advertised. There seemed to be no hidden charges or 'catches' of any kind, nor did any of the users get bombarded by advertising spam as some websites sometimes do.
As a process, futurephone seemed simple enough to use. All it entailed was calling an Iowa located number (which would be a local call for those in the United States), and then dialing the international number that was desired. On the surface, it seemed just like many other cheap international calls providers, yet it was completely free.
Scepticism arose from this 'free' part in particular. Surely no matter how it was looked at, futurephones would be losing money by paying for even the smallest part of the calls as they could not be entirely internet based as they involved a landline. For example, cheap calls to Switzerland landlines would, even if via internet connection, still have to utilize landlines to connect to a landline phone - and this should cost.
For its part, futurephones was stating that they were providing the service for free only initially, up to 2010, and planned to make money selling future services. Of course this did not really sound completely plausible.
Unfolding events have revealed that futurephones probably took advantage of a loophole in the system that allowed it to profit off calls made at expense of other major carriers. Due to this, futurephones has now been prevented from providing its services by said major carriers that are up in arms over the issue. Other companies have, over time, attempted much the same thing, and ended up being forced to terminate their services too.
Although the method used my futurephones and others were pretty much merely the abuse of a loophole in telephone charges, it does raise some interesting questions. Is it possible that there may be a day when calls to landlines, and maybe even mobiles, would be completely free worldwide? Gut feeling states that it is unlikely, the reliance on major carriers for their phone network puts them firmly in the driving seat, and free calls would not be a good future for them. So for now cheap calls to Switzerland and other countries will have to satisfy us, even if they aren't entirely free.
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