Dialing cheap Featured

10:06am EDT July 22, 2002

Wouldn’t it be great if instead of trying to sort through the myriad of phone rates and calling plans, your phone would pick the best rate available for that call? No more rate comparisons, calling patterns or special deals that have so much fine print that the FCC couldn’t even figure out.

With the use of least-cost routing software, businesses can now do exactly that: Find the cheapest carrier with each call.

“This is a software-based product that is applicable for a Windows 95- or Windows NT-based environment,” says Joseph Cline, president of CallManage Inc., a Stamford, Conn.-based software firm that makes the CallManager routing software. “The application evaluates every call on up to 30 parameters, such as call duration, mileage, time of day, type of day and the history of your calling patterns. It will analyze what your expected call cost will be, and who offers the best price.”

A user doesn’t change their long- distance carrier. If the call is determined to cost less using the current carrier, then it goes through normally. If not, then the software adds a prefix to the number that will route the call through the carrier with the lowest rate.

“Calling plans are usually based on call volume or commitments of one or two years from the business,” says Cline. “What we have is a product that analyzes each call as it’s placed. If we can provide a better deal, we do that. We charge on a pay-for-performance basis. If we save a business money, then we’ll charge them a percentage of the money saved.”

The user dials all calls normally, and the software places the call in less than a second after the last digit is dialed. All three types of calls—intrastate, interstate and international—can be evaluated by the software. Typical savings range from 35 percent to 65 percent. A single detailed bill is sent to the business each month from CallManage, detailing each call and summarizing each carrier used.

“The first month we will compare against the current carrier plan and analyze the rate structures,” says Cline. “For the most part, this application is for businesses with less than 100 employees, because larger companies have the volume to negotiate better rates. The number of lines is also typically 20 or less at any location.”

Users must also have a modem, because current rates are updated into the system every other week at a time specified by the business. The downloading process takes about five minutes. The software works with unPBX, key systems and fax-server platforms. The software sits on a server and requires 8 megs of disk space.

For more information, go to www.callmanage.com.