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BURLINGAME, Calif. — We get knocked down, but we get up again — so promises Pat Phelan, CEO of Allfreecalls.net, which is offline now but working hard to reappear. One of the casualties of the legal pressure brought by AT&T against the Iowa-based free-calling operations, Allfreecalls.net […]

BURLINGAME, Calif. — We get knocked down, but we get up again — so promises Pat Phelan, CEO of Allfreecalls.net, which is offline now but working hard to reappear.

One of the casualties of the legal pressure brought by AT&T against the Iowa-based free-calling operations, Allfreecalls.net is looking for a new U.S.-based provider partner and hopes to be offering free international calls by next week, said Phelan Wednesday at the O’Reilly ETel conference here.


Unlike some other web-based calling application providers like Fonpods or Futurephone — who seem to have gone into the witness protection program, with offline web sites and disconnected phone numbers — the outspoken Phelan (a longtime telecom veteran) says he is committed to advancing lower-cost calling, especially in the international-roaming arena. At ETel Wednesday he announced Allfreecalls in the U.K., which allows customers there to make free or low-cost international calls for the price of a local connection.

Dressed in a rugby jersey and looking ready to rumble, Phelan Wednesday decried the current state of international roaming charges, calling them plans that are often stacked against the people who are less able to find ways around them. Residents of emerging-market nations who may not have credit cards or web access, Phelan said, are the ones who end up paying exorbitant telco rates that more-affluent folks (who know what Skype is) can circumnavigate.

“People who need [low rates] don’t have credit cards,” said Phelan, who says that emerging markets (and not the U.S.) will be his main business target. But that doesn’t mean he plans to knuckle under to AT&T, whose legal case Phelan says won’t stand up in court.

“In a couple months, everyone will forget about it and it will all go away,” Phelan said of the AT&T-Iowa Telcos lawyers brawl. “But in the meantime the Internet guys got squeezed out.” Phelan says Allfreecalls.net will probably find another provider partner outside the borders of Iowa, and the service will probably require some sort of user registration.

“We’ll put it back up, and if they force us down, we’ll put it back up again,” Phelan said, unless AT&T decides to change its international pricing rates. “If AT&T just went to 20 cents a minute everywhere, I’d go away,” Phelan said.

  1. It is hard to pick a side in this “battle”. On one hand I think we all like to root for the underdog, but on the other hand all of us who don’t use the service will ultimately end up having the costs passed on the us by the mighty AT&T and others.

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  2. [...] know its not the best reason to get mentioned, but Pat Phelan gets a very good mention on Om Malik’s, GigaOm this morning, regarding his recent trouble with [...]

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  3. Ma Bell is alive and well and living in Iowa. The “re-consolidation” of Telcos is a bit disconcerting. I’m rooting for the underdog go get’em Pat.

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  4. I am waiting for the service to come to Singapore.

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  5. “We’ll put it back up, and if they force us down, we’ll put it back up again,” Phelan said, unless AT&T decides to change its international pricing rates. “If AT&T just went to 20 cents a minute everywhere, I’d go away,” Phelan said.

    Hmm. If this were true, couldn’t he just go somewhere with a “normal” call termination charge, route calls through VoIP and Skype or whatever, and charge people a nice 20 cents/minute or less without abusing the (flawed) subsidies for US rural service? Yeah, it would be no different from Skype except that it would work over a normal phone for people who don’t know or don’t want to use Skype.

    The opportunity for nice arbitrage services that would help people calling internationally exist… they just can’t be totally free to the consumer (and make millions for the guy running them) without taking advantage of rural telco subsidies in unintended ways.

    Now, it may be from his comments that that’s exactly what he plans to do– set up arbitrage somewhere that doesn’t have termination fees that’ll invite such lawsuits.

    I really don’t want AT&T et al. to win their lawsuits on the principle of “calls aren’t really terminated” that would prevent legitimate, non-wanky regulation inspired arbitrage. But I have to admit that the free call companies were abusing the rural subsidies.

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  6. [...] GigaOM » Allfreecalls.net: We Will Return [...]

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  7. Looks like it has returned.

    http://www.yak4ever.com/

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  8. [...] Yak4ever hit 10,000 live subscribers. Its been a blast, full of ups and downs, FCC attacks and worst of all a long spell in the deadpool. Well we are out of the deadpool, the FCC will rule [...]

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