I thought I was doing pretty well with a combination (Telewest and “Telediscount”:http://www.telediscount.co.uk/accessnumbers.php) that cost me 10 pounds a month, a 6p connection charge and between 1 and 3p a minute to call the UK, France, Canada or the US (depending on whether it’s daytime, evening or weekend).
I am still stuck with the 10 pound line rental but now I find 1899.com has a 3p connection charge, lets you call any UK landline for free (except 0845 and 0870 numbers), mobiles for 2p a minute weekends, 10p weekdays and Canada and the US for .5p a minute (France 1p)! An alternative provider “18866”:http://www.call18866.co.uk/printer_version.php charges somewhat more but with a connection charge of just 1p.
When I first came to the UK from Canada my phone habits changed drastically – I was used to paying nothing for local calls to my friends – now I had to pay for every call I made, so I kept my calls short. Now I suspect the boot is on the other foot – certainly my father pays around 50% more for his line rental and I’m guessing I pay less on a per-call basis (except for the fact I still have to pay 3p per call while his local calls remain completely free).
I suspect too that since companies like 1899 rely on word of mouth and (I’m guessing) people finding their website it’s (ironically) the wealthier, better connected people in the UK who can find and take advantage of these deals while poorer people without the time or skills to shop around end up paying much more.