Callback services - What are they?

Callback Services are a method of making low-cost international calls via a third country, usually the USA, where international telephone rates are very low compared to the rest of the world.

In order to use a callback service, you would be allocated a unique number in, say, the USA, which must first be dialled in order to trigger a return call. This is known (in the US) as a Direct Inbound Dialing (DID) number, or in the UK as a Direct Dial-In (DDI) number.

When you hear a ringing tone, you would simply hang up and wait for the callback, usually just a few seconds. Then you just pick up the phone and dial the required number. Most callback services are based from the US and so you would be effectively calling from the US even though you are situated overseas.


Callback diagram

Callback from the USA

Why are most callback services based in the USA?

Many countries around the world have terribly high telephone rates. In many cases, these companies are state-run monopolies or the remnants of such state-run and badly managed systems.

For Example: While a call from the USA to Belarus may only cost about 40 cents per minute, the same call if it is initiated in Belarus may cost $4.00 per minute - so callback makes good sense!

Callback banned in many places

Many countries have banned callback services because their badly managed telecoms companies cannot compete and the overcharge acts as another tax in many third world and socialist countries. Most countries which ban these services have large national telephone companies that are mismanaged state monopolies and charge unjustifiably high prices for international calls. Callback is sometimes the only way to make calls to certain countries from others, for example, Israel from other Middle Eastern countries - some of which do not allow direct telephone connections to Israel, so the calls must go through the USA.