Cheap international cell phone calls using VoIP
June 17, 2007 6:09 PM   Subscribe

Is there a good (and cheap) way to maintain phone communication between US and European cell phones using VoIP or other services, so that neither party needs to make international phone calls?

I'll be moving to Sweden in August, but I'm going to keep working remotely while I'm there. My work requires that I be tied to a laptop during normal working hours, but also that clients be able to call me and that I am able to call them back. These calls need to happen at all hours, even when I'm not online. I don't expect that a cell phone plan in Europe would be cost effective for incoming and outgoing international phone calls.

Does anyone have an interesting solution involving a European mobile phone plan, Skype, Vonage, Grand Central, and/or other services that will:

1. allow people in the US to call me at what seems like a US number on my cell phone in Europe

2. allow me to call people at US phone numbers from either the computer or a cell phone
posted by monkeystronghold to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've got packet8 VoIP service here @ home. I'm not sure, but I'm pretty sure that I can just plug the box in anywhere I can get web acccess, plug a phone into that, and receive calls at the local number. I do know that lots of people take their boxes w/ them on business trips.

Meaning, if you can get access to a cat5 style wire (they might have wireless boxes by now, I have no idea) and a US telephone, you should be OK. When I spent time in Germany nobody had our telco setup---they all used ISDN, which can make it tricky to find a 2-wire phone.

That's probably not helpful, but maybe? I'm also 99% sure that once you get your Skype number, it works anywhere you have your login and internets.
posted by TomMelee at 6:51 PM on June 17, 2007

All my answers assume you'll be able to access Skype's full capabilities via the internet on your phone/mobile device.

Allow people in the US to call me at what seems like a US number on my cell phone in Europe


Allow me to call people at US phone numbers from the computer or a cell phone

SkypeOut, using the "buy credit" facility - it's 2.1 US cents a minute to call the US from Sweden, which is as cheap as you're going to get unless everyone you're talking to is also using Skype.

Also check out Skype Voicemail, which comes free with SkypeIn, and don't forget about sending text messages, which is often a lot cheaper than calling.
posted by mdonley at 6:55 PM on June 17, 2007

Skype will also forward calls from Skype to a number on a normal cell phone - details here.
posted by mdonley at 6:56 PM on June 17, 2007

If you both use Jajah the calls are free.
posted by fourstar at 6:56 PM on June 17, 2007

I use Rebtel myself and really like it.
posted by flod logic at 8:18 PM on June 17, 2007

The previous posters have got the answer for you. Sign up for a VoIP company (there are lots of these, Skype is popular but you might be able to find something chepaer) and organise:

1. A Direct In-dial number for incoming calls: This should be a local number diverted to your European cell phone. Note that you'll probably have to pay international charges on the incoming call, but VoIP makes this fairly painless (as mentioned above, about 2c a minute)

2. A normal VoIP account for outgoing calls: You can either get a box to do this (it's called an Analogue Telephone Adapter), or just get a headset for your laptop and use a softphone. Note that you have to be online for this to work. If being online is a real problem, then you can probably find a VoIP provider that can set you up a local Finland number that you dial into and then dial the number you want to call, meaning it will be a local call on the cell phone and then charged to the VoIP account for the international portion.

Finally, as mentioned above, if someone you need to ring is tech-savvy and has a VoIP account of their own with the same provider, then the call is free (this is a good way to set up calls to (say) your parents back home, just buy them an ATA before you leave!).
posted by ranglin at 9:48 PM on June 17, 2007

When I say local in the above, I obviously mean 'local to the US'.... doh!

Also, the ATA box will work independent of your laptop, but still needs access to the net via an ethernet cable (ie. plugged into your cable modem/adsl router/whatever)

I should've previewed!

posted by ranglin at 9:53 PM on June 17, 2007

For a while, I was using Gizmo VOIP on my Nokia N80. It works quite well for both incoming and outgoing calls, and is very cheap to most countries. All you need is access to a wireless network and an expensive cell phone. I discovered that my cell phone service provider offers a plan to call most countries for free for about 6 USD per month, so I don't bother with the VOIP any more, though.
posted by Etaoin Shrdlu at 1:43 AM on June 18, 2007

A $400 cell phone will do the trick, or an older one like the E61 (current model is the E61i) can do it more cheaply. Any of Nokia's Eseries phones has VoIP. I think the E62 is the only one without WiFi or Euro-spec 3G.

Then all you need is a US-based VoIP provider that will let you use any SIP phone and to give out the US-based number, and make outgoing calls through that VoIP provider.

If you can get reasonably cheap unlimited 3G data in Sweden, you can even set up the phone to use that for the VoIP connection when WiFi isn't available.

I was doing that with an E61 and my company's VoIP server until I lost the phone and got an E62, which doesn't have WiFi or 3G.
posted by wierdo at 2:52 AM on June 18, 2007

Oh, I forgot to mention, you could always get a phone like the Grandstream GXP-2000 if you just wanted a phone on your desk with a US number and free calls to the US.

Also, Voicepulse Connect is far, far cheaper than Skype. Some US destinations are as low as 0.6c a minute.
posted by wierdo at 2:54 AM on June 18, 2007

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