International Access

Did I mention I got an iPhone last week? Well, generally, I’m delighted with it. Not only is it a thing of beauty, but it has a well-crafted intuitive interface that just ‘works’, straight out of the box.

However, every silver lining has it’s cloud, and in Ireland it’s the partnered network of O2. I’ve never, in my 15 years as a mobile phone user, been a customer of O2 before, and I can’t say I’m thrilled about it now. The iPhone tariffs are very poor, in comparison with other networks.

But that’s not my gripe today. I knew I was signing away my life in order to get an iPhone, so I’ll not moan about it now.

No — the subject of my rant today is that of international dialing.

It seems that O2 have a policy of blocking international calls for new contract customers for the first 3 months of service. I’ve a vague idea why they do this – to establish that consumers pay their bills properly, before increasing their credit exposure on high-values calls. But the thing I don’t understand is why they refuse to allow people like me to pay a deposit, in order to over-ride the rules.

Surely if I offer to pay them a deposit of €100, then I can be trusted to dial some international numbers – on what is, arguably their ‘flag ship’ product at the moment – until I’ve established myself as a reliable customer.

But no. They don’t allow that. If I was on pre-pay, I could dial anywhere I liked. But because I’m on bill-pay, I can’t. Well not over the O2 network anyway…

I spotted on the iTunes application store tonight the Truphone application, which brings Voice-Over-IP (VoIP) to the iPhone. Using a wi-fi network at home (or anywhere else for that matter), I can call international numbers for as little at 3 pence a minute. And they’ve even given me £2.00 of free credit, just for signing up.

Without the restriction imposed by O2 I doubt whether I would have bothered to seek this alternative solution. But now that I’ve found it, I rather think it’ll be used quite extensively in the future.