The only difference between a PIN based and a PIN less card being that the former needs manual entry of PIN code by the user while user enters destination number after entering the access number.
Hardware components are as follows.
a. Server: Calling card platform is installed in the server which could be single or multiple depending upon the call traffic. Hardware servers also require a dedicated bandwidth for internet with a possible backup for contingency. Server should be capable enough to handle the call traffic and concurrent calls.
b. PC/mobility device: In order to manage access of calling card platform to a web interface a PC/Laptop or mobile devices required.
c. Gateway: Gateway acts as a bridge between traditional PSTN networks and VOIP networks. Most people call this “call termination”
Software components are as follows.
a. Softswitch/ Calling card platform: PINless calling card platform makes use of ANI authorization while PIN based calling card platform makes use of PIN authorization. Fully functional IVR system, PIN code generation system and Call back functionality could be extra add-ons available on the calling card platform. There is a company I know that provides all the add-ons without charging you extra.
b. Integrated Billing: Provides billing software based on the call data. Billing software should make calculations correctly without loss of data based on call details. New Concept Technologies, do not charge you for any add on as this is already built-in to their software.
2. Equipment/ Services:
Destination providers who could specialize services in all geographies with right pricing should be the natural choice Buying air-time from the destination service provider is also critical. Price list varies as per different geographies and could be attractive with customer appeal. The various channels for the distribution of calling cards are internet, retail stores and distributors.
Value based differential subscription fees which encompass activation fees, connection fees and maintenance fees. Billing rate could be second billing/minute billing as the case may be. Marketing of the cards in the right channels is also critical.
Getting DID Numbers
Once you are through with the equipment and software, you need to get access numbers so that your customers can dial these numbers in order to make calls. Access numbers can be obtained or bought from DID providers. There are many of them around the world. Some few ones are DIDX, Voxbone and host of others.
You have to discuss with the DID provider about concurrent calls. What this means is that if you need 5 ports, only five of your clients will be talking at the same time. If you pay for 100 ports, only 100 people will be talking at the same time. It is better to start with at least 25-50 ports, when your business grow, you increase the port capacity.
You should also discuss with the DID providers about Toll Free numbers as you need these numbers to enable your customers make national calls free from their locations. This can be fairly expensive for you as a provider as you will be charged per minute on every call that passes through the toll free number.
Apart from these ports for DIDs, you may also have issues with your calling card software as some software providers will limit you with just 20 ports or 30 ports and will charge you for more ports for the software to accommodate your calls. There are few companies out there that do not restrict you in terms of concurrent ports. One of those companies is New Concept Technologies,. They give you everything including free support.
Using Mobile Apps to save on DID cost
DID costs can be fairly expensive when running a calling card business, being that you will have to buy many DID numbers from different locations/states and concurrent calls along with monthly maintenance fees on the access numbers. These dialers come in various operating systems. Most popular ones are the iOS and Android. You may also go for Windows, Blackberry and others. One company that can help you with this is: aTel mobile app.
Printing your Cards
You will also contact some calling card printing companies to know about card printing cost. You should normally download your PINs and authority codes to Microsoft Excel document prior to handing the file to the printer.
You will also need termination in order to make money. You will contact voice termination providers and ask for aggressive rates. These rates are very necessary in order to be competitive in the market. For example a call to India will normally cost about one U.S. cent, but there are some providers that will even give you lower. You should also request information about the quality of the routes, as your customers will need good routes. It is always preferable to mix the route with CLI and non CLI routes, so you can make money. CLI routes means those routes that shows caller IDs, while non CLI routes are the ones that do not show the actual caller ID as sometimes, there are some calls that will show very funny caller ID. New Concept Technologies, can also assist you with good termination companies.
Selling your Calling Cards
The cards can be sold in the shops, just anywhere. You can also sell your cards on the internet. In this case you need to get a software that enables online payment so that your customers can buy the card and make payment online. Once payment is made PINs are automatically generated and given to the customer to dial your given access numbers either posted on your website or through your printed cards.
Some of them might pay you upfront while majority of them may not. They will normally pay you as they sell. And the cards are also discounted. For example, a card with face value of $10 will be sold to the shops at $7, while they will sell to their customers at $6. So you have to manage all these calculations before you can calculate your profit, as the end user will want to enjoy $10 value even when they got the card for $6.
Advertising your Calling Card Business
This depends on budget. You can explore some SEO companies to assist you with a low budget and can also use Google pay per click. One easy way of promoting your calling card business is to start within your community. I know of an Indian friend that targets people in their community. Today they are one of the largest calling card companies around.