Everybody knows Skype. Everybody loves Skype. But has Starhub gained itself a huge advantage with Pfingo here in Singapore? Daniel and Jerrick discuss the unique features of Starhub’s VoIP offering with Senior Mac Daddy-ologist Kevin Lim, over in Buffalo. Watch original episode on Tech65.org.
When I was approached by Rebecca of Edelman (Singapore) to look at Pfingo, I agreed simply because I had a jet-setting friend in IBM who had been raving about it. Studying abroad, it made sense for me to find the best way for chatting up folks back home, so finding a decent VoIP solution has been a ongoing quest for me.
For starters, pfingo is short for phone-finger-internet-on the-go. It’s actually three things:
1. pfingoTALK = VoIP
2. pfingoACTIVE = IM, Push content
3. pfingoMAIL = email service
A Lesson in More = Less?
Perhaps it’s an Asian thing, but most of the web services I see coming out of Singapore like being “all-in-ones” (e.g. VelvetPuffin). Unlike our American counterparts who focus on doing one thing well (e.g. Skype, Meebo), I wouldn’t have cared for Pfingo since it was simply all over the place, offering too many services, most of which I was happily using elsewhere (e.g. Gmail, Meebo). Perhaps some might love the fact that Pfingo does so much, but for me, I fell for the VoIP service, which is actually it’s unique strength over anything I’ve used before. I felt that the VoIP feature should simply be marketed to gain top of mind share.
Why did I start using Pfingo more?
As an ex-Vonage customer and now Skype Pro user, Pfingo was the only VoIP service which could offer me a Singapore telephone number for my VoIP account. Perhaps it’s the way the Singapore phone numbers are regulated, but while I could get my own phone numbers for most other countries on Skype, Singapore seems to exclude local phone numbers from being used by foreign companies, giving Starhub (which runs Pfingo) an edge in offering local VoIP services.
How do I personally use it?
For friends in the States, I use my iPhone (under AT&T).
For friends back in Singapore, I use Pfingo.
As backup to call anywhere, I use Skype.
How much is all this?
Having tried various VoIP services, I would think that Pfingo is competitively priced. They have a Basic plan ($1/mth) and a Pro plan ($8/mth), with the main difference being whether you wish to get free outgoing local calls. All calls to PfingoTALK numbers are free as seen in the pfingoTALK Price Plans.
Pfingo gives you a Singapore telephone number
Unlike Skype, Pfingo uses standard SIP protocols, allowing you to use plenty of third party tools to integrate with the service. On my wifi-enabled Nokia e61 cellphone (I don’t even need a SIM card), I was able to get Pfingo running, but only after getting help from the awesome support staff at Starhub (setup does get a little tricky). After that, it works rather flawlessly and voice calls were much clearer than Skype. While Starhub offers a Windows VoIP client which even supports SMS (nice one), Mac users aren’t left out as we can also use a SIP-client from CounterPath that works great with pfingoTALK called X-Lite. It’s a beautiful client I should add, with plenty of slick features all for free. The Pfingo dev team runs a blog over at Livejournal and there are easy instructions there for setting up your X-Lite Mac client.
Plenty to read about Pfingo…
Watch for more hacks via their handy developer blog, unofficial blog as well as their Pfingo forum. Here’s their beginner’s guide and a how to on calling overseas. Strangely, those blogs haven’t been updated in a while.
Disclaimer: Since I was a Pfingo trial user, I’ve been given a Pro account for a year. Free or not, I wouldn’t really care to blog about something if i didn’t think it’s worth mentioning, so Starhub’s latest venture definitely rocks my boat.