Browsing the internet, driving at high speed on a highway, or walking on a pavement, for sure you have seen a "low cost international calls" or "cheap long distance telephone calls" advertisement. Is it true or is it a gimmick? Is it some kind of a new marketing trick? And if it is true, how does it work? Are there any pitfalls one needs to know of? These are questions many people have when they see such ads.
A straight forward answer is yes; it is possible to do long distance or international low cost telephone calls without breaking the law. Also, one does not need to have any particular technical expertise to be able to make such calls. In this article, I am going to explain how providers manage to provide low cost international telephone calls, and what you need to do to be able to make such cheap telephone calls.
Using the normal analogue telephone (in layman terms known as land line), the caller is physically occupying a line (pair of wires), thus he or she has to pay for "renting" that line. International cables, or connections between countries, are limited and expensive to maintain, hence normal long distance calls, or international calls tend to be very expensive.
Thanks to the Internet and hardware advancements, nowadays most households are permanently connected to the internet at a very cheap rate. Why? Unlike an analogue phone, where an actual physical line is occupied by a single user to establish a connection between both ends, anyone who is connected to the Internet does not occupy a physical line. In fact, thousands of connections can be easily passed through a single fiber optic cable. Fiber is the type of cable typically used nowadays for almost any type of connection. This means that establishing an international connection through the internet, e.g. from Germany to Australia will be much cheaper than establishing an analogue telephone call from the same locations.
Over time, internet researchers and programmers developed VOIP; Voice over Internet Protocol. In simple terms; transmission of voice and other type of communication, such as video over the internet. You can watch this What is VOIP video for more detailed information about VOIP. Thanks to such technology, with a personal computer, a VOIP provider subscription, a microphone and headphones anyone can make cheap international telephone calls without being a telephone expert.