Hidden Costs in VoIP Services

The Less Obvious Costs of Your Cheap Calls

VoIP Hidden Costs
VoIP Hidden Costs. voip.about.com

VoIP calls are much cheaper than traditional phone calls, but are you sure about how much you pay? The rates per minute that you see may not be the only thing you are paying for. While making sense of them, be sure you have an idea of any hidden or forgotten cost lurking in the shadow.  Here are the costs you have to look for. 

Taxes

Some services charge taxes and VAT on each call. This depends on their local legislation.

However, not all countries impose tax on communication, and it is possible to have a different taxing scheme for different regions in one country. Although VoIP services do not suffer that much tax from governments as traditional telephony taxes since they are based on the Internet, there is still a number of services that do charge a percentage. Anyway, they should clearly indicate the amount or percentage they are taxing. For instance, Zipt, which is an Australia-based voice and video calling app for smartphones, charges a uniform 10 percent tax on all paid calls. 

Connection Fees

A connection fee is an amount of money you pay for each call, independent on the length of the call. It is the price of connecting you to your correspondent. This fee however varies depending on your calling destination, and on the type of line you are calling to, for you have different connection fees for landlines, mobiles, and toll-free lines.

Skype is well-known for imposing relatively heavy connection fees. Besides, for common users of VoIP calling apps, Skype is the only service charging these connection fees from among the most popular services. 

As a matter of example, Skype charges a whopping 4.9 dollar cents for each call to the United States, which is much higher than the call per minute.

Calls to France also have a 4.9 cent connection fee, which is 8.9 for some specific numbers. 

Your Data Cost

VoIP calls are placed over your device's Internet connection, and as long as your device is connected through your ADSL line or WiFi network, the cost is zero. But if you are calling while on the go, you need to connect on a 3G or 4G mobile data with a data plan. Since you pay for each megabyte you use on the data plan, it is important to bear in mind that the call with carry a cost in this respect as well. It is also helpful to have an idea of how much data is being consumed by a particular VoIP call. 

Not all apps consume the same bandwidth. It is more a matter of efficiency and compression. Else, it is a trade-off between call quality and data consumption. For instance, Skype offers HD voice quality with a relatively higher reliability in calls, but the cost if that it requires more data per minute of call than other apps. Some rough estimates show that Skype consumes twice as much data per minute of voice call than LINE, which is another VoIP app for mobile phones. WhatsApp does consume relatively more data as well, which is why LINE is a preferred communication tool for many people when it comes to voice calling.

 

Hardware cost

For most services, you bring your own device (BYOD) and pay only for their service. But some services offer hardware such as phone adapters (ATAs) as with Ooma, or special device like the jack of MagicJack. For the first example, you buy the device once off and it is yours forever. For the second, you pay for it (and for the service) on a yearly basis. 

Software cost

The norm is not to pay for VoIP software or app, but some apps are not free. There are those with special characteristics like, for example, advanced encryption for secure communication, and there is WhatsApp, which if free for the first year but charges a dollar or so for every coming year of use.