In the world of conference calls, an international access or dial-in number enables any person no matter where they are to join your conversation. Not only is it the essential piece of the puzzle for anyone trying to connect to a conference call, but it is the very thing that determines the cost of it. Each international country will have a different number, and each number a per minute rate, so depending on where you or your participants are dialling in from, the duration of the meeting will determine the amount you or the hosting business is charged for the call.
Now we’ve covered how dial-in numbers are pertinent to the conferencing experience, there are two types of number you should know. The first is a local number and the second a freephone or toll-free number as it’s traditionally known. Both numbers are hailed for being cheaper and much more convenient alternatives to dialling an international number, which was often the only option for people wanting to join a conference call from the other side of the globe. Having to bear the brunt of long-distance charges is never pretty, and so it is no surprise that more and more service providers are sourcing local and freephone numbers for hundreds of international locations across the world.
But what do local and freephone mean? Is there a benefit in dialling one over the other? Are there restrictions attached to either that you ought to know? We’ve put together some helpful guidance, so you can be confident to pick the best dial-number for you and keep your costs as low as possible.
When it comes to conferencing, local numbers are highly sought after. Traditionally, if you were in France and wanted to join a meeting hosted by someone in the UK, you would have to dial an international number meaning phone companies would charge you extortionately for doing so. By providing people with a local number to dial, it’s the equivalent of making a local call in country and that means the cost attached to it is much more favourable. Dialling a local number also requires less routing, a more direct connection using local networks means better audio quality for the participant, thus providing additional benefits.
While local numbers are set up so that they can be dialled in country, they can in fact be dialled from other countries by adding the relevant dialling prefix, but this isn’t usually advised as you will be charged by your phone operator for an international call which can be expensive. In other words, the flexibility to call a local number is there but financially it might not be the best thing to do. If you want a local number but can’t find one for a location of your choice, you can suggest it to us here.
At Speakserve, we do just about everything to source local dial-in numbers for you and your participants, sometimes you will even find two numbers so when one line is not performing as well there is always an alternative number to dial. But while local numbers give you the convenience of dialling a local network, these can be tough to source in some regions of the world, notably, in the Middle East it can be particularly troublesome to get a local line for you to connect to our service. In this case, freephone numbers will usually always be available. Should you find we don’t have a local or freephone number for a country, and it is necessary for you or your participants to join an upcoming call, you can register for a dial-out instead. It is possible to dial-out to just about any region of the world.
Freephone numbers, also referred to as a toll-free or ITFS, are characterised by their 0800/800 prefix. Before local numbers became available to buy, freephone was the cheapest and most abundantly available number type and remains an effective way to access our conference call service. 0800/800 numbers are essentially free to dial from a landline and as of recently from a mobile too meaning the only charge incurred by the person dialling it is the per minute charge based on the country your located in and nothing more. That means no nasty access charges from your phone operator. While freephone numbers are not as cheap as dialling a local number, the per minute rate is still much more appealing in terms of cost than dialling a premium rate number or having to make an international call.
The key difference with a freephone number is that it is set up to be dialled in country and so can only be accessed while you are there. You cannot connect to a freephone number while outside of the country, so you couldn’t dial a USA freephone from the UK for instance. When dialling a freephone number it is crucial that a local phone service is used, that is, a local landline or mobile. Using your UK mobile to dial a USA freephone number whilst in New York would most likely lead to large international roaming costs because you are using an international line.
- Local numbers are cheaper to dial than freephone numbers, where possible find a local number in your chosen country, if it’s unavailable then use the freephone number (freephone numbers are still cheaper than having your participants dial a premium rate or international number)
- Local numbers are set up to be dialled in country but can also be dialled from outside a country by adding the relevant dialling prefix. (Note: it is not usually advised as you will be charged by your phone operator for an international call which can be expensive)
- Freephone numbers are more abundantly available, in some regions of world, local numbers cannot be sourced such as in the Middle East where it can be particularly tough to get a local line for you to connect to our service
- Freephone numbers are free to dial from landline and mobile, the only charge incurred by the person dialling this number type is the per minute charge based on the country your dialling from and nothing more
- Freephone numbers can only be dialled while in country. (Note: when dialling a freephone number it is crucial that a local phone service is used, that is, a local landline or mobile or you risk facing large roaming costs if you use your international mobile)
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