Lingo, the voice-over-IP service launched earlier this year by Primus Telecommunications Inc., is taking the choose-your-own-area-code concept of Internet-based calling international.
Starting Monday, Lingo subscribers can choose telephone numbers from 19 cities including London, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Rome, Guatemala City, and Sydney, Australia, enabling friends and associates in those cities to call them for the price of a local call. The international numbers cost $9.95 each per month.
The "universal number" feature, which allows subscribers to pick a number without regard to their actual physical location, is common to all the major VOIP providers, but Primus, with its large data network of international points of presence and intercarrier relationships, is the first to extend the concept overseas.
"Its a no-brainer for international distributors or companies with suppliers overseas," said Primus spokesperson Gerry Simone. It also makes sense for contractors who may camp out at different client sites around the globe for months at a time and need to call back to headquarters, she said.
Primus is also the only provider to offer U.S. subscribers unlimited outbound calling to most of Western Europe.
Lingo customers can sign up for up to two phone numbers per broadband phone line. Local-number-portability legislation allows them to keep their existing PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) phone number, or they may select a Lingo-supplied number in more than 220 U.S. area codes, in addition to the international numbers. A second U.S. number is $4.95 per month.