Chances are, if you make international calls, you’re primarily concerned with two things: call quality and price. That’s the conclusion reached by Frank Tam, President of Packetel, a company that offers a variety of telecom services including international calling. To find out more about the company’s services, and international calling in general, TMCnet asked Tam to share his perspective.
TMCnet: How would you define "international calling" and how is that different, if indeed it is, from how "international calling" might have been defined a year ago?
FT: Currently, international calling is like local calling; it is inexpensive and easy to access. You can easily make an international phone call by your cell phone and enjoying the rate similar to the calling cards rates. A year ago, it was still somewhat expensive and something that could not be accessed easily.
TMCnet: What were some of the 2007 highlights for Packetel?
FT: In 2007, we have introduced a brand new version of Long Distance and International Calling Service with three distinctive features: calling out, follow me and U.S. presence functions. We also have a new feature that eliminates the need to punch a lot of button to dial an international number, and users can access this feature even on cell phones.
Packetel is one of the first providers to offer a solution overseas customers can use to obtain a U.S. local presence for their business by setting up a local phone number. We also now accept two new types of payment: “Verify by Visa” and “Master Card Secure Code.”
TMCnet: How do you place those highlights in the broader international calling market?
FT: All international calling customers share the same pain of punching many keys to make a call. Also, paying a premium rate to make an international call on a cell phone or any land line is a typical experience. It is not hard for us to promote and educate customers about our new features.
TMCnet: If you had to pick one event or development that occurred during 2007 that had an impact on the international calling market, what would it be?
FT: Being able to make an international call by just punching in a local phone number—only seven digits!
TMCnet: In terms of technology, what changes did you see during 2007 for the international calling market?
FT: Rates are getting lower. Quality and features are getting better. Calling internationally is easier and convenient than ever.
TMCnet: In terms of business practices, what changes did you see during 2007 for the international calling market?
FT: Long distance and international carriers are more concerned about voice quality than lowering the rates. Customers are desperate to have a good service experience; they’re happier and more satisfied when live customer service is available rather than a series of voice prompts.
TMCnet: Looking broadly at all the customer feedback Packetel received during 2007, what trends do you see emerging?
FT: Consumers care more about quality than low rates. A lot of our prospects become our customers mainly because of our voice quality, with low rates being a perk.
TMCnet: Looking ahead to 2008, what changes do you predict for the international calling market—both in terms of technology and business practices?
FT: In 2008, we predict that the international calling market will become more competitive, and only those providers offering value-added features and exceptional voice quality will be able to continue growing.
To learn more about the topics discussed in this article, please visit the International Calling channel on TMCnet.com, brought to you by Packetel.
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Mae Kowalke is an associate editor for TMCnet, covering VoIP, CRM, call center and wireless technologies. To read more of Mae’s articles, please visit her columnist page. She also blogs for TMCnet here.