Calling overseas


Time once again for the annual review of calling overseas. Let’s pick a random example country and see how low the rates can go. For instance, if you want to call a Vietnam cell phone, what are the costs

From US to Vietnam Cellular

If have a mobile phone and sign up for AT&T World Connect, the cost is $0.50/minute. Much lower than the $3/minute if you don’t have a plan and you pay $5.00/month for the service, so it’s a good first cut.

If you have Skype and you call to another computer, then it’s free. If you call to a Vietnam mobile then it is $0.32/minute.

If get a and looks at the reviews then a good service to use from your cell phone is one that uses local access number and then dials to Vietnam, comes out pretty well there is a really complex array call to Vietnam Landline and Vietnam Cellular cards that are hard to figure out. They mainly differ on rounding and the weekly connection fee. So for instance the apparent cheapest called Hello Vietnam Cellular is 5.4 cents per minute, but it rounds to the nearest 5 minutes (so at least $0.25) and has a $4/month fee.

On the other hand, there is 9.0 cent card that rounds to the nearest second and has no monthly fee. The cross over point is how many minutes you are calling. If you call more than 114 minutes/month every month then the Hello Vietnam. That is because 9.0-5.4 is the difference of  cents against the $4 monthly fee ($4/(0.09-0.054)=111 minutes). So it depends on your call volume. The nice thing about prepaid is that if you don’t use it, you aren’t having to cancel. The deal here is if you buy $40 and have auto-recharge on, then the first card is actually $35 which will give you 470 minutes. Then you can see how your use goes. The payback against Skype is that is 4x cheaper!

As another example the $0.075/minute card has a $0.49/month so this pays back compared with the $0.090 card or 0.49/(0.090-0.075)=32 minutes/month minimum usage. So that makes the 7.5cent card the best buy if you are calling reasonably regularly every month.

Finally, the $0.064/minute card is a $2.80/month, so pays off at 133 minutes.

Calling from Vietnam wired phone to and from the US

This is more complicated. You can use Vonage which gives a local number and then people can dial to you. But it is $20/month. Your phone gets a US phone number, so anyone from the US can call it for cheap and you call using VOIP to anywhere in the US for a low cents per minute.

If you want to save the $20/month, you can use Skype from your computer, but that isn’t super convenient. So, you really need a handset to do this. While there are Wifi handsets that do this, most folks haven’t like the battery life or another features of the Belkin or the Linksys that does this.

The best solution is a DECT phone which is lower power and generally better. Google Shop has reviews of the Linksys iPhone CIT 400 that are general good and not super expensive at $130. It works with Skype.

For Skype, you need Belkin Wifi phone and then you need Skype In, so that there is a US phone and then this routes to the Wifi

Calling from Vietnam to US

Well, Vonage at $20/month has been the traditional way, but if you want to use Skype which is way cheaper. The main issue is that if you don’t want a computer on all the time, then you really want the Skype firmware built in and then have an IP connection. There are three flavors. A traditional corded phone, a Wifi wireless phone, a DECT wireless phone.

The corded phone is cheapest and most likely to work well. The Belkin F1PP010EN-SK Desktop Internet Phone for Skype has the best reviews on Amazon for any Skype phone. So seems like a good safe choice. You can dial out over Skype, but more importantly, you can buy Skype In and have a US phone number attached to it, so you can call from the US into any overseas country.

And surprisingly for a Wifi phone, the no-name brand Ipevo S0-20 Wi-Fi Phone for Skype seems much better than the Belkin Wi-Fi Phone for Skype F1PP000GN-SK, Netgear SPH200W or even the discontinued Linksys CIT400.

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