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Mobile Data Tips for Americans Traveling Overseas - Part II

Bill Malchisky  November 7 2012 04:00:00 AM

Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP)

Three of the major players in the mobile VOIP space are Skype, Google and newcomer, Vonage. Each have an interesting angle, so just do your research to ensure that you are getting the best solution for your needs.

Skype Mobile works for many people. Some carriers charge for the WiFi version of Skype, so you may wish to check on any restrictions or pricing considerations. But, you can forward your mobile number here and use it on the outgoing Skype calls. You can have a softphone solution to address your mobile voice needs herein. Know that the Skype Mobile version does not utilize your local contacts database, so you will need to enter in names and numbers for any non-Skype contacts for which you wish to communicate. Always read the reviews in your respective mobile carriers application store to ensure stability with your device's Skype flavor.

Vonage Mobile is a new service from the VOIP stalwart telephony firm. Their application integrates with your local contacts DB to make calls, offers free talk, and text app-to-app or Vonage home customer. So if you have a family member install it, you can get free calls; it works with blue tooth headsets; uses your mobile number as the caller ID -- so if you change SIM cards, your displayed number back home automatically changes too. You can telephone the UK $0.02/min for landline or $0.12/min for mobile calls -- significantly less than other solutions.

Google Voice for Mobile lets you receive calls on your Google Voice number, against any SIM card you are using. So, you need to be mindful of any airtime charges, but if you are on a WiFi LAN, then you would be in a much better scenario. Many people utilize the service, but it is not one that I have needed, so my experience herein is a bit limited -- for now.

There are other options as well. Again, you just need to do your research and find what is the best for you in how you will be using your phone, when, and what type of connectivity you will have at the time. Always be certain to ensure you know the airtime charges --- if any --- when using the service before you call.


Landline Calls

Find yourself in an area where you don't have a good cellular signal and need to make a call? No wireless signal for VOIP either? You have options. Consider acquiring a Pingo account and take advantage of great rates with local calls. It's essentially a modern calling card designed for internal calling. You simply dial a local or toll-free number, then enter your code. From there you dial your desired number. When you are finished making the call, you can continue to make additional calls without hanging up. So, if your hotel has free local calls or 800 number services, you just need to use those numbers and you can call the US from the UK for about $0.02/min on a local phone, or $0.175/min with their Pingo Softphone option. Initially it might seem attractive to use this with your mobile phone, but you will still need to cover the local airtime regardless of which SIM card you utilize. So, there is little advantage to use it from your mobile phone's discounted SIM card.

I use Pingo and they do offer a great service. Very helpful when stuck in an airport overseas and you have no cell signal in the terminal or a dead battery, but need to make a quick call home before you get on the plane.  Nice to have a backup plan. I called from Dublin to Minnesota from my hotel room and spoke for an hour. The total cost to me was US$1.20.


Miscellaneous Timesaving Tip

If you have a secure password containing the pound or number sign (#), know that it is omitted on UK keyboards, replaced with the £ symbol (GBP), and you will be unable to login. You have two options: (1) change your password before you leave (2) record to memory that the number sign alt code is 35, and must be entered with the numeric keypad while the Numlock key is enabled.


SIM Card Storage

Now with all these SIM cards, you may be wondering, how can I store them safely and keep from losing them when not in my phone. There are a several ways to handle this fortunately:
* The dual-SIM card case for your iPhone 4/4s; just flip a switch and you can move from one SIM to another (either SIM or MicroSIM) -- on-the-fly. Very nice product
* The SD Cardholder Company offers a few standard products in multiple colors and customization options too
* A nice four pack which includes a tool to remove the cards quickly is here
* Amazon has a plethora of options, like this one
* The low-tech way is to use an empty case from your breath strips -- which is small enough to put in your jacket or laptop case when in transit
* Of course, with the iPhone 5, you have nano-SIM cards now, so you may wish to wait to see how card holders will handle the additional size
Note:
you can learn to trim your existing SIM cards to nano-sized by clicking here


Summary

For me, I had three SIM cards for this trip. First, my stock Verizon/Vodafone option to allow people who called my number to reach me, and if they needed to see my number receive a call -- basically my backup in-case of failure, due to the costs. Second, my GoSIM card for incoming and outgoing calls, and third, my T-Mobile data only SIM card to ensure that I could keep up with my colleagues via Twitter while at the conference plus send/receive e-mail effortlessly with Lotus Traveler. I just switched as needed for the task at hand.

If you missed Part I, click here
Comments

1Vitor Pereira  12/11/12 8:04:41 AM  Mobile Data Tips for Americans Traveling Overseas - Part II

Skype mobile "does not utilize your local contacts database" but from your local contacts database you can pick a contact and choose to make a skype call (or a google voice call, or a SIP call)

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