Back in October 2013, it was reported that PennyTel was in financial trouble and was ultimately bailed out by MyNetFone with an uncertain future. Since then, despite some trepidation, it seems that PennyTel services continued reliably for existing customers, with no new customers allowed to sign up. The same rates and conditions continued to hold, for a few years to my surprise.
I had visited MyNetFone representatives at CeBIT expos and asked them what was to happen to PennyTel, but none of them were able to answer with any certainty except for the fact that it was still a great bargain for those who had existing accounts and to ultimately enjoy it while it still lasts.
An hour ago, I received an e-mail from PennyTel that seems to signal a change is finally on the way. It seems that Pennytel as we know it, has taken the next step towards its eventual demise. The e-mail (as a graphic) is as follows:
As a result, it seems that there will be some changes – international rates will be charged at MyNetFone’s rates, accounts will migrate over to MyNetFone’s infrastructure, and no longer will multiple registrations be permitted. However, standard call rates and inclusions can be kept, and the services may be cancelled if you do not wish to transfer. Things will become clearer in the near future as the migrations start in earnest.
The PennyTel website has been updated with this message and a feature comparison, so it seems that web-callback, SMS callback, call filtering, smart dial and online address book is not supported.
The time-frame for the closure of the PennyTel portal is a little close, and I think it’s a little regrettable that more advanced notice wasn’t provided, however, they’ve done a fantastic job in keeping PennyTel users connected. Throughout the whole disaster that was PennyTel’s liquidation, I saw virtually no major interruptions in service at all.
It’s extremely rare for a company who takes over the business of a rival to continue their “business as usual” especially when it is less profitable than their own, and more commonly, users are “folded in” to the same platform to avoid double-handling and overheads from maintaining two independent systems.
In this case, the claimed reason for the move is the end of support life for the network equipment used, and the need for compliance with metadata retention requirements by the government (which is ultimately a silly thing that is likely to cost consumers in the long run with minimal benefit).
Fingers crossed that migration goes smoothly, and that the service remains as economical and useful as it was under the PennyTel branding.