Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Cheap International Calls: Staying Connected
Oldies, but Goodies
The two oldest and maybe easiest ways to make cheap international calls are through Skype and Vonage. They are old-school and even though they are cheap compared to traditional ways to call internationally, they are the most expensive compared to the new competition out there. Believe or not, this is the first country that we have used the computer for cheap international calls. When I say we are technologically impaired, I mean it! We had used Skype video conferencing, but then you had to make sure that the people at home had Skype and could navigate through the conferencing, not always a sure thing. Plus, sometimes I just want to be heard and not seen!
Skype: cheaper, but computer-tied
So, before we came to Belgrade, I set up a Skype phone call account for these cheap international calls. Through Skype, you get to choose a permanent phone number from where you want to call. For example, if you want to call the U.S. you get a U.S. phone number. Therefore, it's a "national" call. Then, through your computer, you can call anywhere you want with the charges being for a national or local call. I used Skype because I knew Skype. New technological stuff makes me break into a cold sweat (Yes, blogging is forcing me to face my fears). Skype was cheaper than Vonage. I'm a sucker for bargains. Also, you don't need anything other than a computer and internet access for your cheap international calls, no extra "box" or new phone. You can call right away, the same day, the same hour as set-up even.
The only problem is that with Skype cheap international calls you are tied to your computer, like the old-time corded landline. You can't walk around. Albeit, you can check your email, but you can't answer the doorbell. You sometimes get a lag time during conversation and sometimes an alien enters the body of your loved one and speaks for them. On the other hand, my folks get a U.S. number to call me from their landline or cell phone. No country code and foreign operator chatting to you in a language you don't understand. Oh! Another cool thing about Skype is that you can use it anywhere you have internet. Say you are on vacation in Finland and your mom wants to call you. Ring, ring! There you have them, cheap international calls made easy.
Vonage: clearer, but boxed-in
Some of my friends use Vonage, the grandmother of cheap international phone calls. I've never used Vonage; I've only been on the receiving end. The thing I can say about the calls is that they are nice and clear. I've never noticed a lag time or the alien invasion. The thing about Vonage is that you need a Vonage Box; they send it to you in the mail. This could be a problem if you don't have APO or Diplomatic Pouch or if you want to make a phone call right NOW. Also, the phone plans are more expensive. You pay for the alien-blocker and the ability to water your grass while you're on the phone. Unless you take your box and computer with you on vacation, though, you're stuck at home and the, what, 500 ft circumference surrounding your phone. So, here you have cheap international calls that sound like you're around the corner even if you're at home in Moscow in a bubble bath.
Newbies: cheap, but maybe complicated
Nowadays, there are tons of competitors to our old friends Skype and Vonage. Rebtel and Evaphone came up on my Google search for cheap international calls. They seem a bit more complicated to me, the technophobe (which means they probably aren't complicated for people other than my mom and I). It seems like the person on the other end of your phone line has to sign up to the program too (which isn't the case with Skype and Vonage), but I'm not sure. Also, you have to assign your contacts a new number and save that number with their name, and extra step that I'm sure I'd screw up. They are considerably cheaper, though, so the Cheapo in me is viciously poking the Technophobe. MoneySavingExpert.com outlines a ton of these programs for cheap international calls. The Expert gives the pros and cons of several programs, including the quality of the call and the price. You might want to refer to him, if you like to check out your line of options.
If you've found a program you like, please comment below and share your wisdom with the rest of us.
Now, call your mother.
But, wait, don't forget the time difference. If only they could invent something to circumnavigate that. H.G. Wells, we need you now.
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