Jajah Direct! and more ways to place cheap long distance calls!

November 21, 2007

Since I moved to the U.S. I have been looking for cheap ways to call home, and so far the best one in my opinion is Vonage. It is relatively cheap (19.99 for basic service and 5.99 for a proxy number at home) and i get 500 minutes, quite a good deal. It gets forwarded to my cellphone so everyone can call me and it is completely transparent for them and for me.

However since I really don’t use the local service, I never use it to call (I only use the cellphone) and I don’t even use the equipment they gave me, I feel like I really shouldn’t have to pay the first 19.99, so I looked for new options.

Jajah is a startup company providing phone call services through VoIP, but unlike Vonage they don’t give you a number, or a rent plan. It is simple, you enter your number and the number you want to dial, they will do the connection and “call” you, when you pick the call the person you are calling will be about to be connected.

The rates are very good, (more expensive than Skype though) and if the other party has the service you get 150 minutes free! The main problem I found was that you needed to be connected to internet and log into the site to be able to dial (of course the cellphone internet can come to the rescue but it is annoying)

Fortunately that problem is gone and now with Jajah Direct you can enter your friends number and get a “proxy number” that you can use that will redirect your call to your friend. This is exactly the way that Jaxtr works, with the difference that Jaxtr for not very high usage purposes is practically free (you get 100 minutes a month for free, and getting minutes by referring people is easy).

The problem with Jaxtr is that the quality of the call (both sound quality and delay) is quite poor, and sometimes the calls don’t even connect (I am NOT complaining, heck it is free!) and for sometime I used as my main way to calling back home (since I cannot make calls with vonage without paying extra, only receive).

So now, having Jajah Direct and convincing people to join is a very cheap way to communicate long distance with very decent quality (Skype still sounds a bit better though).

So… what about Skype? Having to use it through the computer is not very “portable” and although there are solutions that allow you to use it through your cellphone like Fring, the sound quality degrades quite badly, and it is nice to have some VoIP that doesn’t eat up your bandwidth 😉 (I should try other options like Gizmo but I have been lazy)

Of course, that is Skype now. If Google buys Skype from eBay as speculated (I wonder if Nokia in its acquisition spree will jump in there too), pairing it with GrandCentral (and maybe even android) may result in a solution that will be far superior to all the other ones I have mentioned.

I am definitely looking forward to see what happens, for now I will keep my Vonage account for some more time until I feel that one of the alternative solutions is reliable enough (or Vonage launches a plan that suits my need… sadly after all the problems they have had with Verizon I really doubt it)


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