Zebra Telecom: a herbivorous predator of IP-telephony?

Pet's Accessories in Apapa often appears in subway cars with an advertisement featuring this cute little animal with cozy rounded shapes. In narrow circles, "Zebra" is teased by "Begemot-Telecom", however, you cannot reproach this IP operator with hippopotamus sluggishness.

Zebra has been grazing on the IP telephony market for many years and has always responded quickly to user requests. Universal card (Telephony + Internet together and separately), roaming, super-preferential calls St. Petersburg-Moscow, convenient account management via the Web-interface, even collectible cards... All this - quickly and on the mass market. The Callback service is another interesting undertaking, focused primarily on mobile users.

Excerpts from the company's press release:

Zebra Telecom, the leader in the IP-telephony services market and one of the leading Internet access providers, announces the introduction of a call-back service for long-distance and international communications using the company's cards. The service is intended for owners of mobile phones connected to tariff plans with free incoming calls from city telephone numbers.

To access the service, a special number (+7095) 789-3734 has been allocated, which differs from the usual numbers for accessing IP telephony using company cards. After dialing this number, the callback system breaks the connection and automatically calls back to the subscriber's mobile phone, offering to enter the PIN code of the Zebra Telecom card. Thus, for the client, the call becomes an incoming one, and he can use the long-distance / international communication services or other Zebra Telecom voice services in the usual mode - instant help, voice dating portal services, etc.

The callback service is available only in Moscow, but it can also be used by Zebra Telecom SPb customers in Moscow roaming mode.

“The desire to make the use of IP-telephony services as convenient and simple as possible for all categories of customers is an integral part of our strategy,” says Viktor Kaledin, CEO of Zebra Telecom. – Today, mobile communication has become a familiar communication tool, only in Moscow the number of cellular communication subscribers exceeded the number of residents. The flow of incoming calls from mobile numbers to the Zebra Telecom network is also actively growing. Even today, such calls make up more than 15% of the total number of calls using the company's cards. It is this growth that dictated the introduction of the callback service, which allows our subscribers to use mobile communications for IP-telephony, excluding additional costs.

Our comment:

The system works well. After dialing (+7095) 789-3734 - "Wait, they will call you back" - hang up. We note the connection time - about two and a half seconds. Those. if there is a five-second guard interval, the outgoing call to "Zebra" will not be charged. Callback (literally in a couple of seconds) - "Wait, the connection is being established." After a couple of long beeps - "Zebra Telecom. Dial the pin-code of your card." We note the reliability of the system: when a busy signal is received in response to a call (communication break), the system immediately repeats the call. Works equally well with federal and direct numbers of all three GSM operators, as well as with MGTS phones.

It can be assumed that Zebra's Callback system is focused not only on mobile subscribers with free incoming calls. Outgoing calls from MGTS phones will sooner or later (rather sooner) be paid, and then many operators will begin to introduce Callback as a "lure" for customers. But by then, IP-telephony consumers will remember that Zebra already has such a service and is working, but they don’t look for good from good.

It is clear that mobile operators are not happy with the Callback service. Any tariff plan is, to a greater or lesser extent, an unbalanced design that allows the subscriber to reduce communication costs within certain limits. For example, a low monthly fee with free incoming calls on MegaFon's "Private Reception" is partially offset by expensive outgoing calls, and a cheap intranet on MTS "Jeans-007" is compensated by expensive communication by city subscribers. Attempts to play on this "imbalance" and snatch your money from mobile operators were actively practiced more than a year ago: all sorts of basement telecom companies for a modest 3-5 cents / minute with the help of callback turned outgoing city into very cheap incoming. The delicate balance of TP was disturbed and the operator faced a choice: ignore the unprofitability of a group of subscribers or block access from its network to the telephone numbers of "firms", and sometimes quite reputable companies. Long-distance Callback is a slightly different service that allows you to reduce the cost of long-distance communication, and does not seek to parasitize on the imbalance of the tariff. In this form, perhaps, mobile operators will put up with Callback.

A useful and beneficial service for us. Let's see what fate will befall her performed by Zebra Telecom