Pat Phelan has never been shy about businesses that upset the status quo. His AllFreeCalls.com, which took advantage of high termination fees paid by IXCs to some LECs in order to provide free international long distance to consumers was shut down in the wake of a lawsuit by AT&T. It seems AT&T felt that the calls weren't really terminating in Iowa since the party on the receiving end was outside the USA. Now Pat is back with a service he thinks can pass legal muster at Yak4Ever.com.
This time, a subscriber signs up by filling out a form with a US phone number where the calls will originate, an email address, and a list of up to ten phone numbers in any of 29 countries. The service responds with an email containing a US number which the subscriber can call and assigns an "extension number" to each of the 10 supplied destination numbers. The number answers in several languages, including a few I did not recognize, and asks the user to enter one of the 10 numbers, upon which the call is put through to the ultimate destination. When I tried it this morning, it wouldn't connect me to a UK cell phone but did connect to the several land-lines that I tried. Given that the service is free and calls are unlimited, it's not surprising that they would want to avoid paying the hefty surcharge for mobile phones. The landline calls were about the same quality as Skype, which is not bad considering the cost.
Presumably the process of calling an "extension" means that Yak4Ever can argue they should be treated the same as a PBX - where the call terminates there before being extended to an internal or off-premises extension. I suspect that this can't go on forever, but given the pace at which telecom law evolves it could take years before this approach becomes obsolete. In the meantime I expect the creative mind of Pat Phelan will come up with new innovations that build upon this service.