Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Deflation of telephone prices

When Liz's brother and sister-in-law went to Brazil, we were concerned about how much it would cost even to talk to them. And with good reason - at the time, the BT rate for ringing Brazil was around £1.90 per minute.

Fortunately, we had a cable telephone, so we weren't paying that rate. We were only paying 75p per minute, with NTL - still quite a lot, though, when there were lots of things to catch up on.

Then, within a year or so of them travelling to Brazil, we discovered OneTel. Another step down in cost, to around 20p per minute.

And then we found TeleDiscount - and the price fell to 3p per minute (now 2p, apparently). At this stage, frankly, the cost of a phone call is pretty irrelevant - it costs more for us to call one another on mobile phones within the UK - or, for that matter, to call from landline to mobile phone. When you can talk for an hour for less than £2 - in other words, you can talk on the phone for less than it would cost you to go and see a film - you don't particularly worry about the price of phone calls any more.

However, with Skype, we reach the ultimate - phone calls free on the back of the broadband access that we are paying for anyway. A 45 minute phone call to Brazil - for nothing.

One of the side effects of this is that the further away somebody is, the more time you spend talking to them. I just remembered that I haven't said happy birthday to my sister, who lives 30 miles away ....