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Bitphone: Enabling Global Calling with WebRTC and Bitcoin
What happens when you combine two hot new technologies? The team at SolidCloud has combined WebRTC and Bitcoin to build a new service, dubbed Bitphone. I spent some time talking with Michael Lauricella about the concept and the technology.
Bitphone combines the use of the Internet currency Bitcoin with a WebRTC to PSTN calling capability. Basically, you use Bitcoins to put a certain amount of credits into your Bitphone account and then you can use those credits to make phone calls from a device using WebRTC to any PSTN phone globally. Essentially, Bitphone is a prepaid calling card that you can use from any WebRTC device. However, unlike a pre-paid calling card, if you decide not to use the remainder of your deposited Bitcoins, you can get them refunded back to your Bitcoin wallet at any time.
The process is simple enough: Establish a Bitphone account using an email address, and transfer a specific Bitcoin amount from your Bitcoin wallet to that account. Now you can use that amount of Bitcoins to make calls. You use a simple dialer on a WebRTC browser to enter the PSTN number you want to call to and Bitphone places the call for you. The calling number sees a Caller ID from Bitphone and you get charged a fee depending on where you are calling to. Typical rates for U.S. calls are less than two cents per minute. You can also specify for Bitphone to call you PSTN as an option if you do not have good IP coverage where you are making the call from.
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