We Are The Very Expensive World
July 8, 2009 6:13 PM   Subscribe

Four iPhone users: USA, Canada, England, Mexico. All with different carriers. What free/cheap voice options are there?

All right, we've got a little group of four friends. One in USA (AT&T, that's me), one in Canada (Rogers), one in England (O2), and one in Mexico (TelCel). All legit unbroken iPhones registered in their own countries and using the usual App Store(s).

Long distance is killing us all, and conference calls are worse.

With all the IP telephony out there, there must be a better way, so what are our best choices for at least one-to-one voice conversations (is iPhone Skype available in all these countries? Something else?) and ideally ad-hoc three- and fourway voice calls?

Lower priority: text messaging is also stupidly expensive, ranging from the 20ยข/msg I seem to be paying for "international texting" (AT&T = whores) to about fifty cents, which is what the UK person is being charged. So a cheaper way to do that would be nice too.

Free is best, but anything cheaper than traditional long-distance is worth considering. Onetime costs or subscriptions... something to stop us from spending an extra $100+ per month each on phone calls to the same three people every time.

Most of us are on the move too much for land-line options, unless they're very portable in an ad-hoc way that forwards.
posted by rokusan to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You're practically begging for Skype. Yes, it's available for iPhone in all these countries. Have you not looked into this yet?
posted by mullingitover at 6:31 PM on July 8, 2009

Skype: yes! And how about email or instant messaging instead of texting?
posted by zachlipton at 6:52 PM on July 8, 2009

More details: I used skype for iPhone a lot while I was in Costa Rica for the past eighteen days. The only drawback appears to be that it's not great for conference calls, and you need to be on wifi (unless you do some jailbreak shenanigans, but then you'd need international data, so save your money for beer and just use wifi). However, for the rest (SMS, international calling) it's great. You get a free voicemail box with a very affordable subscription. Go here.
posted by mullingitover at 6:53 PM on July 8, 2009

You're practically begging for Skype. Yes, it's available for iPhone in all these countries. Have you not looked into this yet?

No Skype for iPhone in Canada.

Has this changed?
posted by rokusan at 7:03 PM on July 8, 2009

Skype is avaliable in Canada, you just have to do a workaround:
http://www.ianbell.com/2009/03/31/iphone-skype-for-canada-a-workaround/ I can't wait for the day when we have ubiquitous, unrestricted (application wise) and resonable bandwidth costs for wireless data. It's where ther world is going, just not with the help of the telcos it seems, who love protecting their unresonable price gouging for anything hinting at 'international'. It's all just data people!

Anyway, for just messaging, you could all get bejive or IM+, both of which support push IM. (Also, a free app for push IM is eBuddy, though your push is limited to 30 minutes since you last used the app).
posted by defcom1 at 10:06 PM on July 8, 2009

but then you'd need international data,

No you wouldn't need international data. All four users are using it in their own respective country and I'm sure have unlimited or near-unlimited 3G they can use.
posted by floam at 10:08 PM on July 8, 2009

Skype will be pretty useless since you can't run it in the background, and calling cell phones with Skype is expensive..

You could try something like Skype + Backgrounder.
posted by wongcorgi at 2:08 AM on July 9, 2009

I think the Skype in Canada problem is for Skype out. I was able to use the Nimbuzz app to take advantage of my Skype Out credit. But if you all have skype, I don't think this will end up being a problem.
posted by backwards guitar at 6:50 AM on July 9, 2009

posted by blue_beetle at 6:54 AM on July 9, 2009

Push messaging (common now in the 3.0 apps, apparently!) will solve that part of the puzzle, thanks. I hadn't noticed.

Skype won't help, it sounds like, even if we get it installed on the Canadian's phone, since there's no easy way to receive a call. I guess we could IM each other and say "Hey, run Skype now and answer my call..."

I'll try some experiments.
posted by rokusan at 2:31 AM on July 10, 2009

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