I have written about VOIP and voice over internet services here and here. These voip services are changing the way expatriate Pakistanis communicate with Pakistan. These voip services are one of the factors which will cause Pakistani phone numbers to change from 7-digits to 8-digits (see my post about this). At the same time the rates of international calls have dropped dramatically in Pakistan because of increased competition in long distance arena.

However there is nothing like dialing a local number and reaching your friend or family anywhere in the world. This is becoming quite common with many VOIP companies providing this service. You are given a Pakistan phone number and that number is pointed to your phone number abroad. So far so good. But one has to be careful before signing up for such services. Often the companies providing these services are new and share little information about their background. Sometimes they packup and close shop leaving users without service and the pain of a non-working number. For these reasons it is better to choose established and reputable companies which can provide better service. I am often asked about these services so I keep an eye on what’s out there. Usually for $30-40 you can find a service with unlimited incoming calls and perhaps a few hundred minutes of outgoing calls.

As part of my research, I have been testing the call forwarding service from Vonics. I was provided with a Lahore phone number and that number rings on my home phone in US. The service is about $30 per month – more info here . The voice quality is superb and customer service is prompt. The interesting thing about Vonics is that they provide phone numbers in 37 countries and (depending on the plan you choose) they also compete with top-notch players such as Vonage and Packet8 by allowing unlimited calls within US/Canada. Vonics told me that more plans will be introduced very soon.

I believe that this will become a popular and common service and many other players will jump in. The price will likely fall from $30s to $20s.

Have you tried any such service? Please share your experience with others.