allfreecallsBy David Ponce

The real Top Story? Come on! Windows Vista’s in store. Go spend some money.

Now, let’s just start by saying this isn’t, for once, about VoIP. This is about ridiculous regulatory loopholes, and how some clever folks are able to exploit something (or someone… no one’s really sure), to give consumers a cool (free!) product, at least for the moment. If you’ve always wanted to make free calls to one of 41 specific countries from your mobile, or landline, you’re in luck. AllFreeCalls gives you an Iowa number to call (712-858-8094). Once you’ve called it, you can then dial your destination number free of charge or time restrictions, provided it’s one of the supported countries. The only cost to you might be the long distance to Iowa, though several cellular providers have nixed long distance charges within the US. There’s nothing to install, no need for a PC, a hotspot, EDGE, 3G or whatever. It uses the POTS, and some dumb laws. Apparently.

Here’s how we think it works. There seems to be some sort of regulation in Iowa that gives rural telcos a kickback for every call received… Yeah, they get money for you to call them (go figure). And that amount happens to be larger than what it costs them to patch you through to your destinations, so they can operate in the black. Supported countries include Australia, Belgium, and Bengladesh, to only name a few. It’s not clear exactly who is giving the telco these kickbacks, just what the specific legislation is, nor whether it’s the taxpayer that’s picking up the tab in the end (it probably is). But, well, who cares, right?

Check it out while it still works. Bureaucrats have a knack for clamping down on free.

[ AllFreeCalls ] VIA [ Techcrunch ]


  1. Sounds like some sort of “reciprical compensation” based business. This was was quite a big business in the late 90’s.

    The concept is this… Phone company A owns the phone number that you call. Phone company B must rely on PC-A to deliver the call and therefore PC-B must pay PC-A a “nominal per minute charge” to connect the call. New phone companies, called CLECs, sprung up overnight to take advantage of this. They typically provided cheap or free dial-up modem access lines to ISPs, thus steering a large volume of calls with long call durations into their phone networks. In this arrangement, (lots of calls * long call durations) = $$$$$$$

    I thought all this was dead, but apparently not in Iowa. The connect charge is typically very, very small (a fraction of a cent per minute) so I’m not sure how they can keep this in the black.