Starting a Calling Card Business:
Advanced international calling cards are quickly catching on as a viable option for long-distance communications. The best feature of this is the ability to use the same calling card for all your national and international calls. Calling cards are cheap alternate solutions to the expensive long distance services provided by Telecom Companies.
1. How does it work
Customer dials either a local or Toll Free access number. Call goes to calling card service provider’s system. System prompts the caller for a pin. Customer enters the pin. Calling Card System checks the validity of the pin and prompts the user to enter the destination number. User enters the destination number and the System connects the call to the destination number.
2. What all you need
Origination Provider: This company provides the Toll Free and Local Access numbers that customer dials. Usually one good company can give you access number for all over US. But you can even have more than one company.
Calling Card System: Calling Card System authenticates the Customer before Dialing Long Distance or International Number. It also checks how much balance amount the customer has in his account and automatically disconnects the call if the customer is running low on adequate balance.
Termination Provider: This Company actually completes the International or Long Distance calls. Your system automatically sends the calls to Termination provider when it authenticates the user. Usually you have 3-4 Termination providers, because its hard to find one termination provider with good quality and rates for all over world. It is always better to connect with the major Telecom Company in the destination countries.
3. Hardware needs
Lots of things are required to run a calling card business. To begin with you will need Web Server, eMail Server, Database Server, Calling Card System and Billing System.
Depending how big and how reliable system do you want, you can install all of these on one machine. One server with decent hardware specs should be able to handle upto 200 calls at the same point of time. The only problem is that if one system goes down for any reason then you are in trouble. So for reliability and high availability you should at least have 2 systems.
For a decent configuration, you should have:
1 Server for Web, Billing and email
2 Database Server
2 Telephone gateways
4. Software needs
You need software for Telephone System, Billing System, Customer Administration, Web Server and Database Server.
5. How to Start
If you think you are good in technical skills and want to start on your own, there are plenty of resources. Having all the details is out of scope of this document. If you are not sure about your technical skills, it is best to hire someone for doing all this so that you can really focus on the business side. For a person with good technical background, it takes around 200 to 300 man hours to setup everything.