Friday, August 08, 2008

GrandDialer: will this help my phone bill?

AT&T charges me a fortune to call Canada.

But what if I could use my GrandCentral account to call Canada, then GrandCentral connects me in?

GrandDialer would make that easier:
GrandDialer, an iPhone app for GrandCentral - The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)

...GrandDialer (iTunes link) allows you to use your iPhone to call people using your GrandCentral telephone number....
This is using the GrandCentral "Click2Call" feature.

8/8/08: It works. Inferior voice quality and some echo, so I don't know how well it will do for my elderly parents. Good lord. This could pay for my iPhone data plan. It appears to be completely legal, but one suspect a bill will appear someday.

Except that the GC site doesn't mention how Click2Call is charged for long distance calls.

Not surprisingly, other folks noticed this a long time ago. Actually a lot of other people.

No wonder people envy me my GrandCentral account.

It's hard being an elder geek -- I miss out on the tricks the youngsters know.

Now I think I know why Google has been moving very slowly with GrandCentral. It sure makes a good club when you're in discussions with telecom companies.

Update 8/18/08: I've been doing this for 2 weeks. Sometimes the voice quality is excellent, sometimes it's weak -- but it does work.

Update 10/19/08: Still works, has saved me about $100 or so. The quality is very good 25% of the time, very poor 25% and marginal 50%. The marginal quality sort of works for my mother, but is worthless for my father. GrandCentral's VOIP quality is on the high end of what I've seen in my prior experiments; VOIP startups just can't get the quality I need (one suspects the phone companies aren't exactly helpful). So it's a good service for free, but they really couldn't charge much and still be worthwhile for me. If I get a bad connection now I just call back with a regular line, I don't retry the GrandCentral connection.

Update 12/3/08: The quality has improved dramatically in the past few weeks. It's now very similar to landline quality. I wonder if Google is getting ready to do something interesting with VOIP. Maybe the phone companies have displeased them ...

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