Starting a Calling Card Business – The Insider’s View
Insider’s view on setting up a Calling Card Business/Company
Starting a Calling Card Business – The Insider’s View
Calling Card Business- Components
Calling card business enables subscriber’s access to international or long distance calls with the help of a VOIP network. The two types of calling cards in use are PIN based calling cards and PIN-less calling cards. Subscriber after purchase of the calling card after validation of access number is directed towards the IVR. International calling cards are used extensively by peoples possessing mobile phones. Average cost of the VOIP is less than the average long distance phone call.
The only difference between a PIN based and a PIN less card being that the former needs manual entry of PIN code by the user while user enters destination number after entering the access number.
Hardware components are as follows.
- Server: Calling card platform is installed in the server which could be single or multiple depending upon the call traffic. Hardware servers also require a dedicated bandwidth for internet with a possible backup for contingency. Server should be capable enough to handle the call traffic and concurrent calls. Servers could be on premise or on cloud as the case may be. You can also rent servers from collocated companies around the world. This way you may not really bother of internet downtime or power failure. Prior to renting server, always ask the collocated company about this, and their recovery period incase there is downtime.
From experience, it is always better to get servers from different collocated companies around the world instead of renting all your servers from company in case of downtime.
- PC/mobility device: In order to manage access of calling card platform to a web interface a PC/Laptop or mobile devices required.
- Gateway: Gateway acts as a bridge between traditional PSTN networks and VOIP networks. Most people call this “call termination” or “voice termination”.
Software components are as follows.
- Softswitch/ Calling card platform: PINless calling card platform makes use of ANI authorization while PIN based calling card platform makes use of PIN authorization. Fully functional IVR system, PIN code generation system and Call back functionality could be extra add-ons available on the calling card platform. There is a company I know that provides all the add-ons without charging you extra.
- Integrated Billing: Provides billing software based on the call data. Billing software should make calculations correctly without loss of data based on call details. As I mentioned earlier, you can contact quite a number of calling card software companies to make a decision. Some of them can be very expensive, and will charge you for everything including any add on. New Concept Technologies, do not charge you for any add on, they even give you every add on when on purchase of their calling card software.
- Equipment/ Services:
Destination providers who could specialize services in all geographies with right pricing should be the natural choice Buying air-time from the destination service provider is also critical. Price list varies as per different geographies and could be attractive with customer appeal. The various channels for the distribution of calling cards are internet, retail stores and distributors. Printer to handle generation of cards along with design/ pricing of cards is critical.
Value based differential subscription fees which encompass activation fees, connection fees and maintenance fees. Billing rate could be second billing/minute billing as the case may be. Marketing of the cards in the right channels is also critical.
Getting DID Numbers
Once you are through with the equipment and software, you need to get access numbers so that your customers can dial these numbers in order to make calls. Access numbers can be obtained or bought from DID providers. There are many of them around the world. Some few ones are DIDX, Voxbone and host of others.
You have to discuss with the DID provider about concurrent calls. What this means is that if you need 5 ports, only five of your clients will be talking at the same time. If you pay for 100 ports, only 100 people will be talking at the same time. It is better to start with at least 25-50 ports, when your business grow, you increase the port capacity.
You should also discuss with the DID providers about Toll Free numbers as you need these numbers to enable your customers make national calls free from their locations. This can be fairly expensive for you as a provider as you will be charged per minute on every call that passes through the toll free number. The best way to recover this is to pass the charge to the users, once they dial your toll free number. There are many ways you can recover this using a good switch plus billing software.
Apart from these ports for DIDs, you may also have issues with your calling card software as some software providers will limit you with just 20 ports or 30 ports and will charge you for more ports for the software to accommodate your calls. There are few companies out there that do not restrict you in terms of concurrent ports. One of those companies is New Concept Technologies,. They give you everything, all “add-ons”, are provided along with your software on purchase and provides six months free support package with a low yearly support after your initial support package expires.
Using Mobile Apps to save on DID cost
DID costs can be fairly expensive when running a calling card business, being that you will have to buy many DID numbers from different locations/states and concurrent calls along with monthly maintenance fees on the access numbers. The panacea to this is to look for mobile app dialers that can consume low bandwidth with crystal quality calls. Get these apps and request your callers to download it on their mobile phones. These dialers come in various operating systems. Most popular ones are the iOS and Android. You may also go for Windows, Blackberry and others. But surely it is as good way of reducing your DID cost. One company that can help you with this is: aTel mobile app. One good thing about aTel mobile app is that, your clients can also talk to their friends and families when on international calls at the same time with you. They can also be on conference for up to 15 people at the same time. They also provide free audio/video calls amongst users and can be branded in your company’s name, so you sell your own brand. They have so many beautiful features which cannot be found anywhere else. You can also use the aTel mobile app to receive calls as well by assigning a DID number to it when downloaded.
In fact you can start the calling card business without necessarily getting DID numbers by requesting your clients to download your app from the App Store/Google Play or even from your website. This way you save on DID cost and may pass the savings to your customers by giving them more minutes of talk time.
Printing your Cards
You will also contact some calling card printing companies to know about card printing cost. You should normally download your PINs and authority codes to Microsoft Excel document prior to handing the file to the printer. The printers will always ask for this before accepting the job from you.
Choose your colors well. Although, no matter how fanciful the card is, it does not really matter, what the customers are looking for is to get more minutes of talk time.
You will also need termination in order to make money. You will contact voice termination providers and ask for aggressive rates. These rates are very necessary in order to be competitive in the market. For example a call to India will normally cost about one U.S. cent, but there are some providers that will even give you lower. You should also request information about the quality of the routes, as your customers will need good routes. It is always preferable to mix the route with CLI and non CLI routes, so you can make money. CLI routes means those routes that shows caller IDs, while non CLI routes are the ones that do not show the actual caller ID as sometimes, there are some calls that will show very funny caller ID. An example is just 555, or 000000. Check the internet and make some contacts to get better deals. New Concept Technologies, can also assist you with good companies and will even provide better call termination rate to A-Z destinations.
Selling your Calling Cards
The cards can be sold in the shops, just anywhere. You can also sell your cards on the internet. In this case you need to get a software that enables online payment so that your customers can buy the card and make payment online. Once payment is made PINs are automatically generated and given to the customer to dial your given access numbers either posted on your website or through your printed cards.
It is possible that you may not get your money upfront when you give your cards to the shops to sell or distribute for you. Some of them might pay you upfront while majority of them may not. They will normally pay you as they sell. And the cards are also discounted. For example, a card with face value of $10 will be sold to the shops at $7, while they will sell to their customers at $6. So you have to manage all these calculations before you can calculate your profit, as the end user will want to enjoy $10 value even when they got the card for $6.
You may also request your customers to recharge by phone. That is, when they are talking and their calling card credit gets to zero balance, they can recharge their PINs by calling your customer service number in order to recharge. This way, you sell your card at full face value except you decide to offer some discounts or you are running a promo. Most calling card companies have this service. Request your calling card software provider to include this in your package.
Advertising your Calling Card Business
This depends on budget. You can explore some search engine optimization companies to assist you with a low budget and can also use Google pay per click. One easy way of promoting your calling card business is to start with your community. You can target people around you. I know of an Indian friend that target people in their community. Today they are one of the largest calling card companies around. So promoting your business can be endless. Just check your budget.
Following the above guide will save you so much troubles and time setting and running your calling card business.
At New Concept Technologies (NCT), we are individuals from around the globe with diverse personal and professional experiences. We share a desire to do meaningful work alongside bright, engaged people. We’ve learned to combine our strengths and balance our individual perspectives. We embrace excellence and the highest ethical standards for the benefit of our stakeholders.
NCT is a leading application development and telecommunication company based in two countries. NCT has been an innovative powerhouse in communication technologies, VoIP services and products since 2008. Our software products include Softswitch, Class 4/5 Softswitch, Calling Card software, conferencing software, voice broadcast, PBX with advanced features, fax solutions, call center with integrated CRM tool software, auto/predictive dialer, chat software, click-to-call, bulk SMS software and host of other solutions.
Since inception, our strategic advantages have been our expertise, creativity and technical competence. We enable ITSPs to deliver the highest levels of performance and quality using our carrier grade, reliable and scalable systems.
NCT is different from others. When we say we are different, the reason is because we do not believe in unnecessarily charging our clients more in the guise of “add ons” applied by competitors in this industry. We give our global clients everything to use, all features, all modules, all add ons, so as to drive more revenue for their business.
Our passion at NCT is to facilitate wise technology investment decisions that provide a measurable return on investment to our clients.
For further details, please contact us at:
Ralph Okonkwo/Thi Pham
New Concept Technologies LLC
3422 Old Capitol Trail
Suite 948, Wilmington
DE 19808, USA
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- Executive Directors
- New Concept Technologies
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