Give me a voip voip!
August 23, 2007 8:09 AM   Subscribe

What's the best way to make calls from Israel to North America, and to let others from North America call me at little or no expense?

I'm moving to Israel. I'm going to be keeping in touch with friends, family, and clients in the U.S. and Canada. There are many ways to do this, but none seem perfect.

Vonage? Has the advantage of being established, pretty straight-forward, and I can use my current number. Downsides: Going under? Quality? Expense?

SkypeIn/Out. I admit it. I just don't get it. I've been through the site and it doesn't seem to be very clear. Is it only for softphone usage?

Unlocked Nokia e61 (for example) with Gizmo Project . In theory, I can have call-in numbers in USA and Israel, which would mean 1 phone for everything. Right? That would be pretty sweet. Though, even if that part doesn't work out, it might be a good deal. But there's a high up front cost, and it's still kinda confusing. Does it really work?

Others : Ooma seems cool, but who knows if I would get my hands on it; Local VOIP providers; Figure it out when I get there. I also just got my GrandCentral account. Don't know if that can figure in somehow.

I'm leaving pretty soon, so if I need hardware, I'd need to order it now. But I'm worried about committing, especially if it means porting a number and then losing it.

Any advice, anecdotes, assurances, or alliterations would be most welcome. I'm a generally bright guy, but this has got me at a total loss.
posted by prophetsearcher to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
I live in the US & I use Skype to video-talk with my family in Israel every day (time permitting).
It's free & extremely simple. All they needed to get was a cheap mic & a webcam. Couldn't be easier.
posted by growabrain at 8:19 AM on August 23, 2007

I think Skype is your best option.. I use it to talk to my BF in Germany every day from Canada.

With SkypeOut, you can call landline or cellular phones from your computer for a small charge... I think it's like 1.5 cents a minute for international calls.

With SkypeIn, your skype "account" is assigned an actual phone number.. but you can choose the country.. so you might be best to choose a North America based number in an area where most of the people you know live. That way they can call you like a local call. There is also a small charge for this.

Personally, we both use Skype on computers with mic/webcam and it works flawlessly -- and is free!!
posted by ninefour at 8:23 AM on August 23, 2007

Yes skype. You buy a headset for about 10 bucks, or you just shout into your laptop. You download the program. Now you can already talk to anyone else in skype for free. You just have to establish contact with them just like with any of the social networking doohickies. Then if you want to call phone numbers, which is still cheap, you have to buy credit -- I did it with a bank transfer, you can probably use a credit card or paypal -- and then you can use the credit to call out. You just type the number in and press the green button. If you want your laptop can ring when someone calls you, or you can actually buy a skype phone if it makes you more comfortable, and you can also pay a small amount for a skype-in telephone number so you could even entirely replicate the experience of talking on a real telephone...but why would you? Normal skype is free.
posted by creasy boy at 8:41 AM on August 23, 2007

I'll fourth Skype, we use it at work to communicate to France from our office in Canada (& vice versa). Easy to use.
posted by Laura in Canada at 8:45 AM on August 23, 2007

Rebtel. Cheap and Free phone to phone calls internationally.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:57 AM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

All the international students here use Skype. They love it.
posted by Comrade_robot at 9:22 AM on August 23, 2007

No to Vonage. It will take you forever to transfer your current number (took me more than six weeks). The quality is marginal. Their customer service sucks ass. And it's really difficult to cancel.
posted by desjardins at 9:39 AM on August 23, 2007

I had a card from that was cheap to Israel (1.5 cents a minute or so.) Best of all: it let me set up a 1800 number in the US that rang to my phone in Israel, for the same low per-minute rate.

(I think Vonage or something would be a better bet long-term, though.)
posted by wyzewoman at 9:50 AM on August 23, 2007

Another Skyper here ... but be advised they've had a few cooties in the system lately. Nothing bad. Just growing pains that dinged the system for about a day and a half. Seems to have been resolved and Skype gave a small premium to members for the delay.

I've had great luck with them. I use it to call China for language instruction.
posted by RavinDave at 9:52 AM on August 23, 2007

If both people are using VOIP, I prefer Google Talk over Skype. Simple download and install and (in my experience) MUCH better call quality with a cheap headset.
posted by fuzzbean at 10:18 AM on August 23, 2007

Response by poster: thanks to the skypers, it's looking more attractive. Can anyone recommend a good cordless handset I can use for regular and skype calling? I see the offerings on the skype site - are there bells/whistles I should be looking for?
posted by prophetsearcher at 12:07 PM on August 23, 2007

nthing Skype.

-Free computer to computer calling
-Cheap calls to landlines or (slightly more expensive) to mobiles using Skype credits (usually called Skype Out)
-Your friends can call a local number you purchased in the US (Skype In) to call you on your computer or on a networked/USB phone.

You can also forward any calls made to your Skype user name or Skype In number to your mobile phone for a small amount of credits. Newest feature is Skype To Go - call a local number from your cell, and it calls the international number you have linked to it. Costs 2 euros a month. Works like a charm, usually anyway.

I just use my headset for calling out, and if people call me when I'm not at my computer it forwards the call to my cell. If I need to make a call when I'm not at my computer, I use my Skype To Go.

That means I don't have any recommendations for a Skype phone for you, though, sorry.
posted by gemmy at 5:30 PM on August 23, 2007

VoipBuster is a bit less flashy than Skype, but has amazing unlimited calling plans to regular phones (as well as free computer-to-computer calls). I'm not sure whether it has a "Skype In" equivalent, though.
posted by lunchbox at 11:24 PM on August 23, 2007

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