BT’s SmartTalk offers free 0800 and discounted landline & 0845 calls from your mobile

January 12th, 2013

BT customers can download the free BT SmartTalk application for cheaper calls to 0800, 0845 and 0870 numbers on a smartphone.

BT SmartTalkBT have launched a new service called BT SmartTalk that allows you to make mobile phone calls at standard BT calling rates. Calls are made using BT’s special SmartTalk application for iPhone and for Android and are routed over a wi-fi network or 3G data connection.

For consumers who are travelling abroad and for consumers who are calling special 08 numbers, some fairly substantial savings are to be had with the service. You’ll need to have a landline number with BT to qualify for the SmartTalk service.

How does BT SmartTalk work?

BT SmartTalk is a voice-over-IP (VoIP) application. Mobile phone calls are usually transmitted through your mobile operator’s voice channels. The SmartTalk application cleverly bypasses these channels by encoding your phone call as a data stream which is then sent out over the internet (normally using a wi-fi network but a 3G network is possible too). Your calls are transmitted over the internet to BT who will then initiate a phone call within their network. This allows you to make an internet-based phone call which bypasses your mobile operator’s network.

Other voice-over-IP applications such as Skype work in exactly the same way.

How much do calls through the BT SmartTalk service cost?

You’ll be charged BT’s standard calling rates for all calls made through the SmartTalk service. These charges are as follows:

Call to… Time Connection Fee Per Minute Fee
UK landline Daytime (Mon-Fri, 7am – 7pm) 13.87p 8.41p/min
Evenings (Mon-Fri, 7pm – 7am) 13.87p 1.11p/min
Weekends Free for up to 60 minutes
UK mobile Daytime (7am – 7pm) 13.87p 11.3p/min
Evenings (7pm – 7am) 13.87p 5.3p/min
0800 numbers Anytime Free
0845 numbers Daytime (Mon-Fri, 7am – 7pm) 13.87p 2.042p/min
Evenings (Mon-Fri, 7pm – 7am) 13.87p 0.51p/min
Weekends Free for up to 60 minutes
0870 numbers Same price as call to UK landlines

For full information on BT’s call charges, download the BT price guide.

If you’re connected to a wi-fi network, there will be no extra charges. If you’re on a 3G network and you’re paying for data on a “per megabyte” basis, there will be some additional charges. Most smartphone users should have an inclusive data allowance of 500MB or 1GB each month which should be cover very occasional use of BT SmartTalk (if your mobile operator allows it). A BT SmartTalk call will consume around 30MB of data per hour.

How will I be charged for BT SmartTalk calls?

The charges for BT SmartTalk calls will appear on your BT landline bill.

How does the cost of BT SmartTalk compare against my mobile operator?

The cost of calling via your mobile operator and via BT SmartTalk compare as follows (bold indicates the cheaper option):

Call to… Time Your Mobile Operator BT SmartTalk
UK landline Daytime (Mon-Fri, 7am – 7pm) Free (included in your minutes) 13.87p + 8.41p/min
Evenings (Mon-Fri, 7pm – 7am) Free (included in your minutes) 13.87p + 1.11p/min
Weekends Free (included in your minutes) Free for up to 60 minutes (unlimited)
UK mobile Daytime (7am – 7pm) Free (included in your minutes) 13.87p + 11.3p/min
Evenings (7pm – 7am) Free (included in your minutes) 13.87p + 5.3p/min
0800 numbers Anytime 7p/min to 35p/min Free
0845 numbers Daytime (Mon-Fri, 7am – 7pm) 12p/min to 35p/min 13.87p + 2.042p/min
Evenings (Mon-Fri, 7pm – 7am) 12p/min to 35p/min 13.87p + 0.51p/min
Weekends 12p/min to 35p/min Free for up to 60 minutes
0870 numbers - 12p/min to 35p/min Same as UK landline

BT SmartTalk provides the greatest savings when calling an 0800, 0845 or 0870 number. Your mobile operator could charge you up to 35p/minute to call these numbers.

For calls to UK landlines and UK mobile numbers, there is usually little to gain with BT SmartTalk. You’ll normally be better off using the inclusive minutes on your mobile phone tariff. For chatterboxes, it’s possible to pick up a mobile phone tariff with unlimited calls & texts for as little as £20/month. You’ll also get an allowance of data for use on your smartphone.

Note that for this comparison, we’ve assumed you’re on a Pay Monthly tariff with inclusive calls. If you’re on Pay As You Go, you’ll typically pay 25p/minute for calls. This can be reduced to 10p/minute on a low-cost operator such as giffgaff. As BT’s rates are less than 25p/minute, customers on Pay As You Go may therefore save money with BT SmartTalk.

How does BT SmartTalk compare against using Skype?

Skype is another popular service for making internet-based phone calls. BT SmartTalk generally offers better value unless you’re calling a UK landline between 7am and 7pm.

Call to… Time Skype BT SmartTalk
UK landline Daytime (Mon-Fri, 7am – 7pm) 4.9p + 1.6p/min 13.87p + 8.41p/min
Evenings (Mon-Fri, 7pm – 7am) 4.9p + 1.6p/min 13.87p + 1.11p/min
Weekends 4.9p + 1.6p/min Free for up to 60 minutes (unlimited)
UK mobile Daytime (7am – 7pm) 4.9p + 17.4p/min 13.87p + 11.3p/min
Evenings (7pm – 7am) 4.9p + 17.4p/min 13.87p + 5.3p/min
0800 numbers Anytime Free Free
0845 numbers Daytime (Mon-Fri, 7am – 7pm) 4.9p + 9.2p/min 13.87p + 2.042p/min
Evenings (Mon-Fri, 7pm – 7am) 4.9p + 9.2p/min 13.87p + 0.51p/min
Weekends 4.9p + 9.2p/min Free for up to 60 minutes
0870 numbers - 4.9p + 12.7p/min Same as UK landline

When calling other countries, Skype usually comes into it’s own and offers much lower rates than either your mobile operator and BT. For more information on Skype, see our full guide to using Skype on your smartphone.

Does BT SmartTalk replace the normal calling plan on my mobile phone?

No. BT SmartTalk does not replace your normal calling plan – only calls made within the SmartTalk application will go through BT. All other calls will be routed through your mobile operator as normal and will be charged from your inclusive calls.

In BT’s Android application, there is an option to set BT SmartTalk as the default service for calling 0800, 0845 and 0870 numbers. You can also set it as the default application for calls to landline numbers (i.e. numbers beginning in 01, 02 and 03).

Can I use BT SmartTalk when I’m abroad?

Going AbroadYes, BT SmartTalk can be used anywhere in the world.

If you’re using BT SmartTalk whilst abroad, you should ensure that you’re connected to a wi-fi network. If you’re using BT SmartTalk over 3G, you could pay hefty roaming charges of up to £10 per megabyte just for using BT SmartTalk. This equates to £5/minute when using SmartTalk. For visitors to Europe, one way of cutting this bill is to pick up a new Pay As You Go SIM card for cheap data roaming: 25MB/day should give you enough for a 45 minute phone call. O2 currently offers 25MB for just £1.99/day.

One thing to be aware of is differences in time zones: BT classifies an evening call as taking place between 7pm and 7am UK time. If you’re in another country, you’ll need to ensure it’s the evening in the UK to take advantage of the lower calling rates.

Can I use BT SmartTalk over a 3G connection?

It is possible to use BT SmartTalk on a sufficiently-fast 3G connection but it may be against your mobile network’s terms of use. Some networks such as T-Mobile actively block voice-over-IP services such as Skype and BT SmartTalk.

For more information about data consumption and whether your network allows VoIP applications to be used over 3G, see our guide to using VoIP apps such as Skype on your smartphone.

What number will people see when I’m calling them over BT SmartTalk?

BTPeople will see your mobile phone number as the originating number when you call them with BT SmartTalk.

How many people can use BT SmartTalk?

Up to 5 people per household can use BT SmartTalk. It is possible for multiple people to use SmartTalk simultaneously as it doesn’t tie up your phone line.

Can I receive calls on my BT landline number with SmartTalk?

Unfortunately this is not possible. BT has a call divert feature which allows you to forward calls from your landline to a mobile phone.

Can I call my own phone number using BT SmartTalk?

Yes, you can call your own home phone number with BT SmartTalk. This can make it a cost-effective way to call home when you’re abroad on a business trip.

Do I need to be a BT customer to use SmartTalk?

Yes. You will need to get your line rental from BT to make use of BT SmartTalk. If your line rental comes from a different company, you cannot use SmartTalk. It is not necessary to be a BT Broadband customer to use SmartTalk.

How much does BT line rental cost?

BT Line RentalBT’s standard line rental costs £15.45/month. An additional £2/month is charged if you don’t pay by direct debit.

If you currently lack a BT landline, you may be better off with a £20/month mobile phone plan. The £20/month line rental charge comes with unlimited UK calls and texts: any time, any network. You’ll also get an decent allowance of data to use on your smartphone. T-Mobile’s The Full Monty is a winner at £21/month for unlimited calls, unlimited texts and unlimited internet.

How do I get BT SmartTalk?

To get started with BT SmartTalk, you’ll need to download a free application for your iPhone or Android device. The billpayer should also register for the SmartTalk service on BT’s website.

    

Like this tip? Get the most from your mobile phone...

  • Discover brand new ways to use your mobile phone
  • Techniques to get more out of your mobile phone for less
  • Be the first to learn about new mobile technology

Enter your email to receive free regular Ken's Tech Tips:

About Ken

Ken Lo

I'm a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005 with the aim of demystifying mobile technology for the rest of us.

Before writing about mobile technology, my background was in space & atmospheric physics. I have also worked in software development. Nowadays, I help companies to explain mobile technology to their customers. Please check out my portfolio or get in touch for more information. I'm also on Google+.

Your Comments

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 1 comment from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  1. Janison said:

    So what? Skype does 0800 for free and 08 Wizard app gives you a alternative number using your included minutes.

Leave a Reply

E-Mail Notifications: By default, I'll drop you an e-mail when there's a reply to your comment. If you don't want to receive such a notification, please select the "Don't Subscribe" option from the dropdown menu above.