Bits & Bytes
HOW OVERSEAS CALLERS CAN GET STATESIDE RATES
A tiny New York com pany might turn into a big problem for foreign phone monopolies. That's because International Discount Telecommunications Corp. (IDT) has a way to let callers outside the U. S. skirt the exorbitant international calling rates charged by many non-U. S. carriers. Here's how: An overseas subscriber dials a machine located in IDT's offices and hangs up before it answers. That causes the device to call back. The caller answers, presses the pound sign to get a second line, and then can call anywhere, even to another country, at U. S. rates.
Subscribers can save up to 75% on calls, says Howard Jonas, IDT's founder and president. But they must pay $200 a month on top of the per-call charges. One early customer is NBC Inc.'s Olympic operations in Barcelona. Foreign carriers dislike the service, but U. S. officials, who are pressing those carriers to lower their rates, say they don't see any legal problems.EDITED BY SUNITA WADEKAR BHARGAVA