VoIP service provider abruptly discontinues its free US-wide calling offer and announces a new "pay-as-you-go" plan with competitively priced US and international rates.
StanaPhone, the relatively new Voice over IP provider that made a bit of a name for itself by offering 100 minutes of free calls to any US and Canadian number (as well as several landline numbers in select locations in Europe), has announced that it will now begin to charge for call termination.
Subscribers to the service, who receive a free telephone number and are required to use it in order to keep it, will receive a $2.00 monthly credit towards US and international calls.
While it is unknown how many subscribers StanaPhone signed up during it's free call period, the company's web site ( http://www.stanaphone.com/) claims that its soft-phone, a specially designed version of SJLabs'popular computer-based software VoIP client, has been downloaded nearly 90,000 times.
StanaPhone describes the new pricing policy in some detail on the company's web site, the company's logo on the site continues to claim it's "The World's First Free Telephone Service!"
According to a press release issued by the company, “once the credit is depleted, a user has the option to purchase additional call time or wait until the beginning of the next month when he or she gets another $2.00 credit.”
StanaPhone's per-minute rates, both in the US and internationally, are, for the most part, very competitively priced. For example, calls to the US , Canada , most of Europe and many major Latin American cities are charged at $0.02 a minute.
In addition to the new pay-as-you-go business model, StanaPhone has also released two new features on its service: free voice mail (messages are emailed to recipients directly) and call forwarding (set on the user's Account Manager pages on the StanaPhon web site).
Ironically for a telephone company, StanaPhone has not published a telephone number for media calls regarding the company's new direction. Instead, the company's press release directs all press inquiries to the same email address (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org) it provides to the general public.
As of press time, we have not heard from StanaPhone representatives. We'll add to this report once we hear from the company.