Overseas calls made cheap, if not easy

02 February 2007

You want to know how much it costs to make a 10-minute call to New York from London? From a pay phone, US$15.70 (US$1 = RM3.50). From a T-Mobile or Cingular cellphone (US handsets that work overseas), US$3.40 to US$12.90. From your hotel room phone, US$58. Perhaps it would be cheaper just to fly home.

These rates reflect a gigantic disconnect between the olden days and the new ones. Why pay for the privilege of transmitting your voice along ageing copper cables buried under the ocean when the Internet is capable of transmitting it free?

All right, all right: convenience and familiarity. Everyone knows how to pick up the phone and make a call. But sooner or later, the overwhelming economy of portable Internet phone-calling equipment might appeal to the inner economist in you — and persuade you to change your tune.

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