In contrast, Optus, for example charge 30 & 30 to Hong Kong and Thailand, 60 & 65 to South Korea, 60 and $1.25 to Japan 60 and 60 to Vietnam, 95 and $1.20 to Iraq and 25/25 to China, all with a 35 cent flagfall and 60 second charging.
Lebara, which launched in Australia in March, achieves its low cost international calls by taking these calls off the Vodafone network and routing them overseas via its own switch.
It charges calls to Australian landline and mobile phones at 20 cents per minute and SMS at 15 cents, again with 20 cent flagfall and in one minute increments - so all calls cost at least 40 cents. Calls to other Lebara mobiles in Australia are 20 cent flagfall then no charge for the first 10 minutes and 20 cents per minute thereafter.
Australia was the eighth country to get Lebara services and the first outside Europe. The company was founded in 2001 and now operates in The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland and Spain. Annualised revenues are in excess of $A400 million and the company claims in excess of three million customers. In Australia it claims to have almost 10,000 retail outlets.
The company is targeting overseas born residents and users of prepaid calling cards in particular. Lebara Mobile head of marketing, Sheila Panchani, said: "Our strategy is to shake up the market by offering the lowest international call rates direct from a mobile phone. We expect it will influence consumers' transition from calling cards to Lebara's better quality, better serviced prepaid SIM card."
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