TalkPlus links your phone to local numbers in foreign countries, enabling your friends and family living abroad to drop you a line for the price of a local call.
This is a big expansion of the San Mateo, Calif. company’s previous service, which gave you the option to have multiple U.S. numbers that all dialed the same phone.
For a $9 set-up fee and a subscription ranging between $7 and $12 per month (depending on locale), your friends, family and business contacts living abroad in 30 supported countries can dial a local number that TalkPlus assigns and reach you in 192 countries throughout the world.
There are a few players, like pre-paid wireless provider TracFone and VoIP service Vonage, that offer something similar, but their reach is limited, mostly to Canada, Mexico, and the UK. The relatively unknown AIT is the closest competitor, offering local numbers in 38 countries. Their rates are higher, however, costing up to $25/month for a number in Japan.
TalkPlus is also launching a Jajah-like service with a significant innovation thrown in. When you use Jajah, you enter in your number and the number of the person you’re calling, and Jajah rings your phone. When you answer it, Jajah completes the call. This is known as call-back. The big problem with call-back is that it can’t get to you when your number has an extension, rendering it useless for huge numbers of businesses and people calling from hotels. TalkPlus solves this problem with what they describe as “call-through.”
To make a call using call-through, you take the same steps as you normally would for Jajah, except instead of having TalkPlus call you, you call a local number that it assigns, and then it connects the call. This sounds kind of arduous, but if you’re a small to medium-sized business owner using an extension-based phone system and making lots of international calls, using TalkPlus’s call-through may be one way to cut your phone costs.
The company raised $5.5 million last year (here’s our coverage) and says it’s in early talks to raise another $10 million.