Thursday, April 23, 2009

Skype and PBXs

I don't have a fixed landline at home (the local telecommunications monopoly claims they don't have the capacity in my area!) and our mobile network is not Internet-enabled so I am forced to use Skype to speak to Nanda in my work lunch hour.

When there is a crisis back in the UK which I have to sort out from afar and our Internet connection (via satellite back to the US) slows down due to bad weather or some other form of network congestion (I ping our servers back in the US before even before trying to use Skype - a return packet rate of anything over 600 ms just won't work), I then have to ask the boss to use work's landline (reimbursable of course).

I have also found that skyping through a UK PBX proves problematic. The touchtones ("press 2 and then #") work fine but once I get through to a person the call breaks up in both directions. Hence last week and this week I have to beg my boss to use work's landline for my bank problems.

So can any of my readers explain this to me?

Whilst on the subject of Skype, tariffs to landlines make interesting reading. It costs me 0.017 Euros per minute to call our UK landline from Africa and not much more to call a UK mobile. However, to skype a fixed line here costs USD 1.195 a minute. Looking at Skype's tariff information three of the eight countries to which to call a fixed line cost more than USD 1.00 a minute are lusophone countries (East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé e Príncipe) where Portugal Telecom have/had a majority shareholding in the local telecomms monopoly.

The most expensive Skype-to-landline rate is to the UK overseas territiory Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, an arquipelago from which the UK evicted all residents when it rented it to the US as a military base and which has been used extensively in the two Iraq and Afghan wars.

I cannot imagine the token UK administration or the US military have much need for fixed landlines.

Back to Nanssen drifting through the ice ...

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