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After getting some New York Times recognition for its free international calling plan, it looks like FuturePhone is no more. A visit to the company’s website pulls up a red banner announcing This Service is No Longer Available, and a call to the company’s international access number, 712-858-8883, gets you a message saying “we’re sorry, this service has been disconnected.”
Our pal Alec Saunders had previously explained how FuturePhone’s VoIP-based telecom arbitrage game might have worked (Tom Evslin also explained it well) — simply, FuturePhone was probably taking advantage of a regulatory loophole that allowed it to earn more money for terminating long-distance calls to Iowa (where the 712 area code is located) than it was paying to connect international calls.
One thing you can count on — when such loopholes exist, it’s a good bet that the team with more lawyers and lobbyists is going to win in the end. And as we keep digging to find out why the company’s service was yanked, we wonder if this isn’t another warning to the VoIP disruptors that they need to do more than find fancy ways to cut costs. Because sometimes those loopholes can close with a noose.