Long distance telephone/VOIP options (USAustria)
June 27, 2007 9:30 AM   Subscribe

Long distance options between USA and Austria (VOIP preferred on Austria end)

I'm moving to Vienna and need some (cheap!) means of staying in touch at home.

Current plans:

-Family mostly uses cell phones (T-Mobile and Cingular), but has landlines. Looking for three options from the US end:
1. Cheap way to chat computer to computer (probably iChat or Skype, I'd guess, but would like input on those options, particularly Skype, with which I have little experience and don't know the reasons to choose it over iChat)
2. Cheap way to call austrian mobile and landlines from the states (via landline or mobile phones in the States)
3. Cheap way to call austrian mobile and landlines from the States (via computer)

-Will have cable internet and cell phones. No landline. Cell phones plans there seem to have all sorts of configurations, but we will probably end up with a T-Mobile plan that provides unlimited calls to landlines and other cell phones in the same network, and fairly expensive (€0.20/minute) to cell phones outside the network. Looking for three options:
1. Cheap way to internet chat with the states (again iChat or Skype)
2. Cheap way to call the states via computer
3. Cheap way to call Austrian cell phones that aren't T-Mobile by computer
posted by sdis to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total)
Skype can handle all the options like a champ. I use it regularly to call my GF in Europe both computer to computer and computer to phone.
posted by JJ86 at 9:34 AM on June 27, 2007

The problem you may run into (at least what I have in the past) is incoming call charges on the cell phones in Europe. I'm not sure about the Austrian carriers, but pretty much whenever I've called a cell in Europe I'm charged a per-minute fee, rather than the person receiving the call. Skype made it a lot less-expensive, but by no means would I call it cheap. You might want to check the service plans on that end.
posted by pupdog at 9:56 AM on June 27, 2007

Whatever computer stuff works is likely to be symmetric. For your 2.s, I'd go with Skype, since I've never found the SkypeOut rates bothersome enough to start researching anything cheaper.

Your second 3. doesn't exist, AFAIK. I'd suggest a second cell phone and a prepaid card, Bob or the like (beware the 4.90 monthly minimum charge), which is what my more price-conscious peers seem to be using.
posted by themel at 10:08 AM on June 27, 2007

Try checking out something like Jajah or Rebtel.
posted by flod logic at 10:37 AM on June 27, 2007

I'll third Skype, which I use to keep in touch with family in the UK. iChat works wonderfully too, but its Mac only I think. If both sets have Mac, then I have found iChat to be superior to Skype, less set up hassle and works perfectly every time.

For cheap phone to phone calling don't use a US mobile phone at all - you're going to get ripped off by the cellphone company whether you call or receive. UK cellphones used to have excellent rates for international calls, this may apply to Austria too? Landline calling is done cheapest using a calling card plan of some type, where you pay a monthly fee to get low per-minute rates. My friends and family use this method to call me (in the US) from the UK. Unfortunately I don't know the name of the service they use, but I believe they pay around 5p a minute. Landline calling from the US can be done cheaply if you sign up for an international plan form your phone provider. I can call the UK for 5c a minute (IIRC) through AT&T.
posted by Joh at 10:58 AM on June 27, 2007

My best friend lives in Vienna. We talk almost every day for free because we both have Skype. When one of us is away from the computer, we can call eachother's cels. Here are the per minute Skype rates for Austria:

Austria - Landline $ 0.021
Austria - Mobile $ 0.270
Austria - Mobile (Telering) $ 0.320
posted by miss lynnster at 1:33 PM on June 27, 2007

Clarification: those are the rates to call an Austrian phone from the U.S., I'm not sure of the charges the other way around.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:35 PM on June 27, 2007

I live in Hungary, I use the US provider Voicestick (www.voicestick.com) - it works well, they give you US phone number in the area code you choose...
They are so cheap, I use them for calls within Hungary, too

Rates for you (Next2Nothing):
Austria - Landline $ 0.0174
Austria - Mobile $ 0.2034
posted by kzs at 5:30 AM on June 28, 2007

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