Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Expand CallCentric Calling Card Gateways from 74 to 535 PSTN Access Points

CallCentric Calling Card PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) Gateways are an excellent way to save on long distance phone calling. Currently, CallCentric has 74 world-wide access numbers in 16 countries, primarily in North America, Europe, Australia.

CallCentric is a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) VoIP provider located in NYC, USA with world-wide VoIP termination and calling card calling rates starting as low as 1.65¢/min.  I've been using CallCentric myself for years and connect via my ATA, IP-Phone, softphones, as well as Calling Card PSTN access.  They have many notable features including:  free in-network calling, free world-wide VoIP peering using SIP URI dialing, SIP Broker peer access using codes, free +883 iNum's and routing, as well as Calling Card access at VoIP rates.  Their list of free features goes on and on...

The Power of PSTN and VoIP Consolidation
The focus of this article is about how to leverage and expand CallCentric's PSTN gateways, from their existing 74 access points to as many as 535 global access points, for calling to PSTN/Mobile destinations through CallCentric's VoIP network, at their same low rates as Internet-based VoIP calls.  There are no extra charges, contracts, or fees for using any of the 535 PSTN gateways presented in this article to access the CallCentric VoIP network, other than your normal cost of a typical local area phone call.

So, what's the secret to expanding 74 access points in 16 countries to 535 access points in more than 47 countries?

Three Networks Provide Greater Access Than Any Single One.... at No Extra Cost!
I've leveraged CallCentric's free peering services by collectively combining the PSTN VoIP gateways of the iNum network, the SIP Broker network,  with the existing CallCentric network.  Now, we have the power of three VoIP networks combined to create a much larger and accessible global calling card network... at no extra cost.

Here is the PSTN access number breakdown:
  • CallCentric  -   74 numbers in 16 countries
  • iNum          -   71 numbers in 47 countries
  • SipBroker    - 390 numbers in 38 countries
The foundation of combining these three services, to create one larger calling card service, is based on CallCentric's ability to funnel all incoming calls, via an incoming DID (direct inbound dialing) phone number, through their calling card feature.  In essence, you will be creating your own "private" calling card access number (an iNum) for funnelling all incoming calls to your CallCentric account and then re-directing it through their calling card system.  This is the premise of making landline (or mobile) calls to landline and mobile numbers via the CallCentric VoIP network, at VoIP rates (no VoIP equipment required).

In the scenarios presented here, the DID we will be using is a CallCentric issued DID, which will be an iNum +883 global number (free).  In my case, I use my CallCentric issued iNum DID as the bridge between SipBroker network, iNum network, and CallCentric's network.  Routing of iNums between these networks is free.  To obtain your CallCentric iNum, you need to order it via your CallCentric user account dashboard, the same as any other DID, but it is free to obtain and use.

In a previous article, I explained how to combine the power of iNum and SipBroker gateways with CallCentric for making free world-wide calls to global +883 iNum numbers.  The only short-fall of that methodology is that the majority of iNum destinations terminate to VoIP services and VoIP-connected devices.  So, how can we leverage this methodology to call to landlines and mobiles, via iNums?

SipBroker  + iNum + CallCentric + PSTN Gateways = World Wide PSTN calling for as low as 1.65¢/min.

Using the information I've researched and assembled, I discovered that it is now possible to place calls via SipBroker and iNum PSTN access points, and then funnel those calls through CallCentric to landline and mobile phone numbers, for the same termination rates as placing a normal CallCentric VoIP to PSTN-terminated call.

The key to expanding CallCentric's 74 access numbers up to 535 numbers is to call your CallCentric iNum number from any of the globally available iNum or SipBroker PSTN gateways. Your incoming iNum call to your CallCentric number will be re-routed through the CallCentric calling card system (see step 4 below).  Then, your call is re-routed to your desired destination PSTN number of choice, and charged as any other CallCentric call-card routed call.

Enabling Calling Card Access Through Your CallCentric Account
Here are the steps required to enable your CallCentric account for calling card access via PSTN gateways:
  1. Create your CallCentric account.   (free)
  2. Order your iNum DID through your CallCentric Dashboard.   (free)
  3. Configure your user Preferences (Calling Card tab) to "activate" Global Access Numbers to allow incoming calls from any of CallCentric's global PSTN access numbers.   (free)
  4. Enable (set to "Yes") Personal Dedicated Access Numbers (in this case, your iNum DID number) into your account (Preferences -- Calling Card tab).    (free)
  5. Set your personal access calling card PIN (4 to 10 digit pin - not required, but recommended).  (free)
  6. Save all setting changes to the Preferences - Calling Card tab page.
Now, any incoming calls to your CallCentric account will be redirected through the CallCentric Calling Card System.  There are no extra charges, or fees, for using the calling card feature.

Your call-card calls "to PSTN destinations" are charged at CallCentric's normal VoIP calling rates, just the same as if you were placing a call to a PSTN landline or mobile destination from your VoIP ATA, IP-Phone, or softphone.  In this case, the only difference is that you originate your call "from" a global PSTN gateway landline number provided by CallCentric, iNum, or SipBroker, as a local call using one of the access numbers (hopefully, there's one in your local area code).

Top-up Your CallCentric Pre-Paid Calling Credits Balance
Before you can place calls "to" PSTN destinations, you need to top-up your CallCentric pre-paid calling balance.  Top-up with little as $5.00 of credits using major credit cards, or PayPal.  Your balance decrements based on your per/minute call usage to PSTN/mobile destinations.  Calls cost as little as 1.65¢/min. (Calls to USA/Canada are 1.98¢/min.) There are no connect fees, or other charges.

NOTE:  Your balance is displayed in the upper left corner of your account management DashBoard page and the upper right corner of all pages of the CallCentric website, when logged into your account. The Add Funds link is located just next to your visible account balance value. The Add Funds to Balance link is also located in the lower right corner of the DashBoard under "Important Links" section.

The CallCentric system will notify you via E-mail whenever your account balance drops below $5, or any value that you preset in your Preferences Billing page.  Here, you can also set your account to Auto-Top-Up with your credit card, if desired.

Routing CallCentric PSTN Gateway Calls Through Your CallCentric Account - (74 Access Points)
If you have "Activated" CallCentric Global Access numbers in your CallCentric account (step 3 above), you simply place your calls through any of the 74 Global numbers provided by CallCentric.  You will be greeted by a CallCentric gateway voice prompt asking you to enter your CallCentric account number (11-digits plus #-key), followed by your PIN number plus #-key (as set in step 5 above).  Then, you will be prompted to dial the destination number you wish to call (followed by #-key).  Your call will be connected and your pre-paid balance decremented at the rate determined by the destination of your call (1.98¢/min to USA/Canada).

Routing Your iNum PSTN Gateway Calls Through Your CallCentric Account - (71 more Access Points)
If you've enabled calling card access through your account, any incoming calls (to your CallCentric issued iNum DID number) are automatically routed to the CallCentric calling card system.

When placing your call via an iNum PSTN gateway access number, you will be prompted to "enter the iNum number your wish to call".  In this case, you will be calling your CallCentric issued iNum DID, which you have already set as your Personal Dedicated Access Number for calling in via your iNum DID.

iNum Gateway TIP:
When calling through iNum PSTN gateways, you can enter your iNum number as one of two ways:
  1. As a full 15-digit iNum:  "883-510-00xxxxxxx", or
  2. Only enter the final 9-digits of your iNum:  i.e.  "00xxxxxxx"  (this only works via iNum PSTN gateways)
Once dialed, the call to your iNum DID is now routed to your CallCentric calling card gateway via iNum. At this point, you will once again be prompted to enter your PIN (followed by #-key), followed by your destination number you wish to dial (standard long-distance format, followed by #-key).

Routing Your SipBroker PSTN Gateway Calls Through Your CallCentric Account - (390 access points)
Placing your CallCentric calling card calls via SipBroker PSTN gateways works exactly the same as placing your call through iNum PSTN gateways - with one exception: At the prompt, you must enter your full 15-digit "883-510-00xxxxxxx" iNum number (no 9-digit short-cut as with iNum gateways).

Clearly, you gain the greatest world-wide coverage by utilizing the additional 390 PSTN gateways provided by SipBroker.  However, by combining all three services of CallCentric, iNum, and SipBroker we now end up with 535 access numbers through which to place your CallCentric calling card calls, world-wide.

It's nice to have options!

In Summary, here are the dialing sequence procedures for each of the three methods outlined above:

1. - CallCentric PSTN Access Gateway Dialing Sequence:
  1. Dial a closest local area CallCentric PSTN access number
  2. At the "welcome message", enter your CallCentric account number (11-digits, followed by the #-key)
  3. Enter your CallCentric calling card PIN (as set in your account Preferences), (followed by the #-key)
  4. Enter the destination PSTN number you wish to call to (followed by the #-key)
When calling through my local CallCentric global numbers (Calgary, AB, Canada):
  1. Dial:  403-775-1750  (My CallCentric local area PSTN gateway - in Calgary, AB)
  2. Enter: 1777xxxxxxx #  (my CallCentric account number)
  3. Enter: xxxx... #  (my CallCentric personal calling card PIN)
  4. Enter:  1-xxx-xxx-xxxx (if dialing within North America, otherwise, regular int'l dial sequence)
2. - iNum PSTN Access Gateway Dialing Sequence:
  1. Dial a local area iNum PSTN access number
  2. At the iNum Welcome message, enter your full 15-digit CallCentric iNum DID (or, 9-digit short-cut)
  3. At the CallCentric Welcome message, enter your CallCentric PIN, followed by #-key
  4. Enter the destination PSTN number you wish to call to (followed by the #-key)
When calling through my local iNum global number:
  1. Dial:  403-775-1446  (My local-area iNum PSTN gateway - in Calgary, AB, Canada)
  2. Enter: 883-510-00xxxxxxx (or, just the last 9-digits) #  (my CallCentric iNum number)
  3. Enter: xxxx... #  (my CallCentric personal calling card PIN)
  4. Enter:  1-xxx-xxx-xxxx # (if dialing to North America numbers, otherwise, regular int'l dial sequence)
3. - SipBroker PSTN Access Gateway Dialing Sequence:
  1. Dial a local area SipBroker PSTN access number
  2. At the SipBroker Welcome message, enter your 15-digit CallCentric iNum DID
  3. At the CallCentric Welcome message, enter your CallCentric PIN, followed by #-key
  4. Enter the destination PSTN number you wish to call to (followed by the #-key)
When calling through my local SipBroker global numbers:
  1. Dial:  403-775-2208 (My local area SipBroker PSTN gateway - in Calgary, AB, Canada)
  2. Enter: 883-510-00xxxxxxx #  (my CallCentric iNum number)
  3. Enter: xxxxx #  (my 5-digit CallCentric personal calling card PIN)
  4. Enter:  1-xxx-xxx-xxxx # (if dialing to North America numbers, otherwise, regular int'l dial sequence)