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VoIP provider with dial in number in the US w/o monthly fee

Paul Robinson
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>> This does need an existing SIP account though and the numbers
>> are area code 360 (Washington State) which may not be where
>> you want it <g> but it's free and it works, so is ok for me..!

> What's the catch? Offering up incoming PSTN numbers can't
> come without at least some sort of fee.

It is entirely possible for some local telco (Local Exchange Company or
LEC) to offer free incoming service, say, transferred to, say, a voice
mail account or perhaps VOIP, doing so based on settlement rules if
they can get enough incoming traffic to justify the cost of their
Internet connectivity or (voice mail system operation) plus some

Realize that for every call that is terminated into a number, the LEC
for that line is allowed to collect a fee from MCI/ATT/Sprint (the long
distance carrier or Inter-exchange carrier or IXC) if it is a long
distance call. If it is local and terminated from another LEC, the
sending LEC pays a small fee to the receiving LEC which is charged
against return calls from the receiving LEC, and at the end of the year
at settlements time, the two carriers determine who had more outgoing
calls and that carrier pays the other one.

Actually, settlements are generally done on almost all interconnections
between carriers and local telcos. Basically if you call out using
MCI/ATT/Sprint or some other IXC, you are billed by them for your calls
(or the local phone company pays the IXC at a discount then bills you).
What really goes on is that your IXC and your LEC calculate the number
of minutes of incoming calls from the IXC to the LEC's phone lines, add
to that the number of minutes of outgoing phone calls from the LEC's
phone lines, charge the incoming and terminating charge (let's say
that's .002 or 2/10c per minute), then from that, subtract the price
per minute the IXC is charging for calls placed onto its network (let's
say that's .05 per minute.)

If the total amount of incoming and terminating call charges exceeds
the amount of charged minutes the IXC has received on its network, the
IXC would pay the LEC the difference. If the total amount of incoming
and terminating charges is less than the amount of charged minutes the
IXC has received on its network, the LEC pays the IXC the difference.

In some cases the LEC buys the IXC's recievables at a discount then
bills the customer directly. In some cases the LEC will include the
bill from the IXC as part of its bill, charge the IXC a fee for doing
the billing for them, and then pay the IXC as the customer pays the

Where the LEC is either charging the IXC for billing or the LEC is
buying the IXC's receivables, settlements are being used. If the IXC
is billing directly, then settlements would not be used.

In any case, incoming calls to a carrier are worth something to that
carrier, as a revenue source. What it basically comes down to is most
LECs want more money for lines so they decide that getting only
incoming termination charges is not enough.

In some cases some IXCs would pay very large customers (universities
with dormitories, for example) to be allowed to directly terminate
into their facilities because they can pay less to terminate there than
what they would pay to an LEC even after settlements.

Settlements can be done as often as they choose, hourly, daily, weekly,
monthly or once a year.

Under the old Bell System, AT&T and its local operating companies did
settlements once a year, because it was basically all paper numbers as
AT&T essentially owned all of the local companies and thus any money
changing hands was from one part of the company to the other.

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