Google has reduced its call rates to Indian phones from 6 cents (Rs 2.70) per minute to 2 cents (90 paise) per minute and extended the service to customers outside the US, including those in India.
Google phone-calls help customers call phones almost anywhere in the World at rates that are usually cheaper, sometimes much cheaper, than those offered by traditional phone service companies. However, this service was only available to US customers till today.
It is not clear whether Indian customers of Google (Gmail) would be allowed to call phones in India, as the Government has prohibited such calls to phones inside India, to prevent ‘disturbance’ to traditional phone companies in India.
However, Indians would be able to make cheap calls to phones outside India using the service and their friends and relatives outside India too would be able to call them at just 90 paise per minute, wherever they are in the World (as long as Google has launched the service in that country).
“Last year, we made it possible for those of you in the U.S. to call any mobile phone or landline directly from Gmail and starting today, we are making this available to many more of you who use Gmail outside the U.S. by offering calling in 38 new languages,” Google said today.
Google manages to offer cheaper rates than traditional phone companies as it uses the Internet to route the calls cheaply across the World and hands it over the telephone network only at the last link of the chain.
For example, if an Indian customer calls someone in the US, Google would carry the traffic on the Internet all the way to the US, possibly right up to the city of the called person, and then hook it up to the telecom network.
While earlier, such calls suffered from poor quality due to the unpredictability of Internet traffic, technology has improved to a degree where the quality difference is almost zero.
The cheapest rate is applicable to those calling US & Canadian phones — one cent (45 paise) a minute from anywhere in the World. To many in India, talking to someone in the US is now cheaper than calling their next door neighbour. If you are in the US or Canada, then calling any phone in your country through Gmail is free.
To call someone in most of Europe (UK, France and Germany), the rate is 2 cents per minute for landlines and 10 cents (Rs 4.50) per minute for mobiles.
Rates are higher for mobiles because the service providers often charge a hefty ‘termination fees’ to allow others to connect to their customers. In India, for example, they charge 20 paise per minute for ending a call on their network.
Many Indian software and Internet companies have been asking the Government to allow their customers to make calls from their computers to phones in India. However, the request is opposed tooth and nail by the telecom operators.