My college aged daughter recently traveled to Ecuador for three weeks and I think we talked more often to her than when she was at school. It was really easy and it was cheaper than if she’d stayed home.
There is no set rule for cheap international calling, it really depends on your location and the different cellular providers in the different types of cell standards.
My daughter has an iPhone and we determined before she left on her trip that iPhones, using AT&T cell services, don’t work very well. The international calling plan from AT&T sounded pretty expensive. There was also no way to add a local Sim card to her phone unless her iPhone was unlocked, which we didn’t think was a good idea.
What we ended up doing is simply using wifi-based e-mail and Skype when she was at her hostel home location or at her work location. She turned her cell and data services off before she got on the plane to Ecuador and just left the Wi-Fi service running. We ended up not paying a dime for voice and message services while my daughter was in Ecuador.
We did that by going on trip advisor in searching on the Quito travel forum. We didn’t even have to ask new questions we just searched on cell phones and you could look at all of the different conversations that had already taken place from people with similar situations.
What we learned, if we didn’t want to go the completely free route with Skype, is that my daughter could have purchased, or pre-purchased, a quad band GSM phone. Most people said that if you shopped efficiently you could find a phone for $30 to $50. Then we could have her chest a cheap prepaid Sim card from one of the local cellular services in Ecuador. A $20 sim card probably would have covered most of the calls she made.
I think we might have gone the cheap phone route if my daughter hadn’t had a traveling companion with a quad band GSM phone like the one described above. Relying on Wi-Fi and Skype means that you can’t necessarily call whenever you’d like.
Apple FaceTime is a software application that runs on Apple mobile devices (comes with iPhone 4 and newer, IPad 2 and newer, IPod touch 4th gen or newer) running Apple’s iOS and on Macs using a $.99 app that runs on OS X 10.6.6 or later. FaceTime lets users conduct free video calls over Wi-Fi networks. FaceTime will also work over cellular networks (requires cellular data capability) but depending on the cellular carrier you may be charged for those video calls.
How to Setup FaceTime on iOS
Step 1 – go to your settings page and tap FaceTime. Turn the FaceTime on/off toggle button to “on”.
Step 2- enter your Apple ID and password, then tap “next”.
Step 3 -select the e-mail addresses and phone numbers of the people you want to have FaceTime video calls with.
This week Facebook announced that that iPhone users can make free voice calls to other iPhone users by using the Facebook Messenger App and wifi.
The service was available in Canada and is now available for US users. There have been rumors for years that Facebook was going to get into the mobile phone business but common business sense says stick with software, don’t make hardware. Now, with the huge base of Facebook users, other VoIP companies like Vonage and Skype may get a little worried about their offerings.
The service is pretty simple to set up and use. Here is a quick video demonstrating it.