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Do the Call by Call savings codes still exist?

No mere nostalgia from the 2000s: the low-cost call-by-call prefixes still exist and offer those who use them many savings advantages when making phone calls. But how does the system work today?

It was THE telephone trend in the early 2000s: With the so-called cheap prefixes, also called call by call or callthrough, you could save significantly on calls at home and abroad with a special number combination. The additional area code meant that the call no longer went through the usual telephone provider.

This procedure was originally introduced by the legislature in 1998 to prevent the monopoly position of the German Telekom and also to offer users alternative rates. What many do not know: The cheap prefixes still exist today. atechbook introduces you to the somewhat tricky system and shows you how you can still save a lot of money when making phone calls.

How Call by Call works

Telekom is the only company in Germany to offer Call by Call. As a customer, you can only make cheaper calls from the fixed network, but you can make calls within Germany, abroad and to mobile networks. In principle, Call by Call is available everywhere. The only exceptions are towns and cities where the company has not laid its own lines and therefore has to rent them from other operators.

The following infographic illustrates exactly how Call by Call works. It is also worth noting that until a change in telecommunications laws in 2012, call-by-call providers were not required to inform you of the applicable rate by announcement. While users could therefore still run the risk of unknowingly incurring enormous costs in the past, now you are always told in advance what the following call will cost you. The call is then billed via the normal telephone bill.

The claim remains

Which area code is best for your purposes, you can look up for example in the comparison portal of Especially abroad, call-by-call can make a difference of more than one euro per minute. Even if Deutsche Telekom is increasingly relying on all-IP connections instead of analog and ISDN, the statutory regulation still requires the company to provide call-by-call after more than 20 years.

Recently, the regulation was even extended. The prefixes will continue to exist in the coming years, according to a joint announcement by Deutsche Telekom and the competitors’ association VATM in June 2022. Accordingly, call-by-call will be continued until the end of 2024. The same applies to the option of calling another provider on a permanent basis (preselection).

If you are not a Telekom customer, you cannot use call-by-call. Other providers do not have this option, as they have not yet been legally obliged to do so. In this case, the call-through principle is more suitable, especially for cell phone users.

Callthrough in detail

With callthrough, you are not tied to the fixed network, but can make calls from any device anywhere. In principle, the procedure works similarly to Call by Call, but it has a few special features that you should consider and assess for your purposes. Here you first have to dial a dial-in number, there you will get a free line connected and then dial the actual phone number.

Certain telephone providers prohibit the use of callthrough within their general terms and conditions. Since you make calls here via the telephone computer of a callthrough provider and not via their contractual one, the companies want to counteract huge savings with the ban.

If your provider allows callthrough, you can consider which payment model you want to use. For one-time calls, prepaid with rechargeable credit is the best option. For frequent calls, postpaid with billing via the normal telephone bill is more appropriate.

Also interesting: These providers offer the cheapest calls outside the EU.

Avoid cost traps

Finally, you should pay attention to which call-through number is the best for you. Comparison portals not only tell you which provider offers the lowest price for your interests. They also list whether it also has a rate announcement. This is crucial for callthrough, as prices change constantly and can vary greatly.

Also, the cheapest provider is not always the most reliable or the one with the best quality. You should therefore always consider whether a normal call might be cheaper in the case in question. In other cases, however, you can save a lot of money with callthrough.

With material from dpa


  • Telecom