Video: Heard about Pfingo? Kevin chats with the Tech65 crew

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.

What’s Pfingo?
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.

16 thoughts on “Video: Heard about Pfingo? Kevin chats with the Tech65 crew

  1. @Andrea: Sorry to burst your bubble, but as seen on the Pfingo site:
    “pfingoTALK was popular for attractive propositions such as free outgoing calls to pfingoTALK and any Singapore phone number, good voice quality, mobility of the service (it can be accessed from Wi-Fi mobile phones), ownership of a 3-series Singapore phone number for life, and the ability to send SMS messages.”

    I use Pfingo everyday, with friends calling me on the Singapore number and reaching me on my Nokia e61. It works via wifi or mobile data service, such as 3G, HSPDA, etc. Services like Truphone, Vonage, Skype are aplenty, but so far only Pfingo give you an SG number.

  2. Agent Priscilla keeps me posted about developments in Singapore, while I provide her opinions on online culture. Pfingo has made long distance calls back home much easier. 🙂

  3. Interesting. Your video was shown in a Starhub presentation to some of us last Friday. It was amusing how you were introduced as an authority on such matters when a few of us already knew that 😉 and were giving each other knowing looks!

    The presenter said that you guys just felt like creating the video about Pfingo (i.e. it was spontaneous and probably not prompted by PR folks). Now at least I know you were approached by Edelman.

  4. @Vantan: Thanks for sharing; I didn’t know about it. Even though Edelman did approach me, it was still pretty much up to bloggers like ourselves to decide whether to write something about it. Most important to me was that it was a good product worth sharing.

  5. Actually, it’s not the only way you can get a Singapore registered Number.

    I have a Pfingo 3xxx-series number. I was one of the who early testers.

    I also have a Starhub 6xxx-series VOIP number too.

    Both are from the ‘green’ telco. The latter is the Digital Voice Travel.

    Pfingo uses softphone, while DV Travel allows you to use an ordinary ‘hold in your hand’ telephone. Just plug your phone to the DVTravel Integrated Access Device. Then plug the IAD to your broadband connection via the RJ45.

    I have pfingo on the mac, but I find that I seldom use it. Only when I am too lazy to get off my seat to grab my mobile or wireless telephone!

    Prefer to use the wireless phone that’s plug into DV Travel. (it free for me, comes with maxonline…)

    Oh yes, DVT you can bring it anywhere in the world with a broadband connection, I brought it overseas before and it works.

    When someone calls the DVT, the connection tone on the phone is not the familiar connection tone. It’s the US style longer ‘toot’ sound.

    Actually, I realise I have another VOIP connection. The office network is totally VOIP too! It might be the biggest CISCO implementation in Singapore, the last I heard of.. maybe no more.. 🙂

  6. @Ben: That’s true, and perhaps an exception. Yahoo! has always been in the Internet portal business, so the user experience is made consistent even on the mobile. In essence, the all-in-oneness is something they’ve long embodied (and sell). I should made my point clearer: What I meant was new products or services in Singapore could do with the KISS concept. They often do too much, and potential users get lost on the original intent. It’s the top of mind you’d want in an attention economy.

    @keropokman: Steady, I didn’t hear about the Digital Voice Travel service, and I read somewhere that the 3xxx series number was dedicated to VoIP. I think the 6xxx-series is the standard landline number, and perhaps the telcos decided to save allocations on the 6xxx-series by releasing the 3xxx-series for a lot more numbers. Interestingly, the DV Travel motorola adapter looks exactly like my Vonage one, which I brought back to Singapore last time too (keeping my U.S. number too).

  7. Hi. SuperInternet’s XLVoice service also offers 3-series voip numbers. IIRC, they actually started offering this service before pfingo. http://www.xlvoice.com/

    Fwiw, I think pfingo looks more slick, is cheaper, and comes from a telco with higher brand awareness too.

  8. @PY: Wow, you see, why is why I blog… one thing leads to another and before you know it, we’ve compiled a bunch of details on the availability of VoIP in Singapore. Nice one! 😉

  9. Hi, I’m a singaporean but studying overseas. I have good adsl2+ connection where i stay, and absolutely love voip services. I’ve signed up for pfingo and it’s been doing me good 🙂 One thing bothering me tho, is there anyway or anything that i can connect such that i can channel my pfingo phone calls to my residential telephone and still operate while my comp is off? also, does anyone know if sony ericsson mobile phones (z610, k800i) can be configured to use pfingo? Thanks a million in advance.

  10. Regret: Free pfingo account – Bad experience!

    UNABLE TO TERMINATE pfingo account.

    username:
    sgp

    password:
    mediaring

    The above pfingo account will prove that pfingo will not bear to cancel (including starhub mobile number) any account.

    This is true even at the expenses of losing one starhub mobile customer.

    Remember:
    Do not register your life-long mobile number or you may regret.
    You may pay S$8 for a S$10 Singtel prepaid card. Use the Singtel number to register for your pfingo account to protect the privacy of your life-long mobile number.

    Feel free to break pfingo terms and conditions as they will rather have a growing membership than to terminate any account.

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