When I invented call back in 1991 I was looking for a cheaper way to make an international phone call. US had liberalized, the rest of the world had not, and I started Viatel (originally Via USA) and came up with the concept of exporting US dial tone to the rest of the world. In 1999, when Viatel was worth around $1.2bn, I sold my shares in the company, which by then had evolved into being a budding internet carrier and went on to start Jazztel and Ya.com in Spain, where I had moved from the States in the 90s.

Since then I have been out of the “cheaper way to make a phone call business”. FON, even though its name sounds about a “cheaper way to make a phone call” company, it is not. FON is about building a global wireless network that is free to use for bandwidth donors. Nevertheless, our partners at Skype have built a formidable “cheaper way to make a phone call” community of 130 million people growing at 200,000 new members per day. Amazing. Now, after Skype you would imagine that the field was taken. And yet it is not.

More and more entrepreneurs come with ingenious ways to make a cheaper phone call. At the ETRE conference this week I ran into two of them, Hjalmar from Rebtel and Marc of Jajah. Maybe you thought that whatever had been thought about in the “cheaper way to make a phone call” business had been already developed. At least I thought so. But, so long, as Vodafone, Orange, Movistar and others continue to overcharge all of us (necessity is the mother), there always seems to be another (invention). Both Marc and Hjalmar are very creative entrepreneurs, each one in his own way. They are far from the success of Janus and Niklas, but they share their spirit. I recommend that you study their web sites and the extraordinary solutions they have found to make mobile phone calls cheaper.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

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ale fuhrmann on October 12, 2006  · 

Martin, thanks a lot for sharing with us this information. Both companies are great! and make calling to mobil phones MUCH more afordable. Its really abusive but Vodafone, Amena, ets charge for mobil calls.

3.0 rating

Stanley on October 13, 2006  · 

Martin, you did a great job. MINO Wireless Inc. followed you back and also made a great creative service. Hope we can go more successful.

Thank you.

3.0 rating

Eric Straub on October 13, 2006  · 

There are better ways to make cheap or even free calls using VoIP.

If you have been in this business since 1991 you should give better advices to your readers!!!

3.0 rating

Bernard Leung on October 14, 2006  · 

I have read the website that you have provided. I admire their creativity but somehow, the cheaper way to call means the procedure is more complicated for those “Less internet connected” or elderly people.

3.0 rating

Martin Varsavsky on October 16, 2006  · 


Pls give it yourself and I will publish it. Pls share with us a better way to make phone calls over mobile phones than http://www.jajah.com, http://www.rebtel.com, http://www.skype.com and http://www.gizmoproject.com that I know well.


3.0 rating

Martin Varsavsky on October 16, 2006  · 

Hi Stanley, will check out Minowireless!

3.0 rating

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