Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tech Column: Inexpensive International Calling - Round 2

by Bill Adler

The Cleveland Park Listserv rocks! In response to last week's tech column about inexpensive international phone calling, http://yhoo.it/zf87qh, I received several additional recommendations. While it's possible to talk with somebody in another country for free, computer-to-computer, sometimes you want or need to talk from a cell phone.

From Barbara Turnham comes a recommendation for Rebtel, www.rebtel.com. She wrote: "It is one cent/minute to the UK landline (17 cents mobile) which is the best I have found (we call UK landlines a lot both coming from there).  You add money to an account and there is a system where the person abroad can call you back at the same rate." I took a look and signed up: Rebtel is easy to use and inexpensive.

Lynda Mulhauser uses net-2-phone, www.web.net2phone.com, an Internet phone company that offers a bundle of 1,000 minutes to a large number of countries for $24.95 a month. Net2phone can be very cost effective if you place a lot of international calls. Vonage, the company that spearheaded internet telephony, also offers bundled packages for international calling. You can view Vonage's rates here: www.vonage.com/international-voip-rates.

Stephen and Michael Buckman report that "You can also use a Skype App on your smartphone with minutes you buy from Skype."  You can use Skype with your iPhone and chat with anyone in the world using Skype's 3G or wifi connection. For more about the Skype iPhone app, visit http://bit.ly/xFhhQw.

You may notice that many international calling services charge more to call a mobile phone than to call a land line. The reason for that price difference is that in some countries incoming calls to mobile phones are free. But nothing is truly free when it comes to cell phone companies, so the cost difference is made up by charging incoming callers more.

What international calling system is best? If you make a lot of calls, signing up for Vonage's package plan is economical. Google Voice, www.google.com/voice, which I wrote about in last week's column, is the best marriage of convenience and price for occasional international calls. Rebtel, www.rebtel.com, because it assigns you a different local phone number for each international contact you have, is super easy to use. Rebtel costs more per minute than Google Voice, but if you're making a call from a land line, Rebtel is easier to use, because it doesn't require that you initiate the call from the web, as Google Voice does.


Bill Adler is the co-publisher of the Cleveland Park Listserv, www.cleveland-park.com. He is the author of "Boys and Their Toys: Understanding Men by Understanding Their Relationship with Gadgets," http://amzn.to/rspOft. He tweets at @billadler.

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