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A good inexpensive VoIP can be hooked up in several ways to a fast internet connection. We look at a few popular VoIP services.

I'm an American Ex-pat residing in Sweden. My son lives in L.A. and I have many friends in California. A few years back, I accepted Yahoo's phone-in-out VoIP service. At the time, they charged only one-cent per minute to a landline and since increased it to two cents and they offered a service I've seen nowhere else - phone-in whereas you can choose an area code plus a number for calls that ring directly to my computer here in Sweden. Whereas I pay $2.99/mo for the number and service plus two cents a minute for outgoing calls only to landlines, but there's no charge to me for incoming. Now, Yahoo is discontinuing this service as of January the 30th of next year and I've been looking all over the internet for a similar service, but have only found firms that offer toll-free incoming from the U.S. and Canada. The toll-free part isn't really necessary as most everyone has unlimited minutes. I suppose it would work but I'm retired; not a business and believe that they are in the business of providing VoIP for business only. Question is: any suggestions, or where I might look to find a similar service to Yahoo's?

In this excerpt from Answercast #79, I look at several options currently available to be able to receive local US-based phone calls when overseas.

A good inexpensive VoIP

Actually, I have several places for you to look. I don't know if the costs are going to be as competitive as what you've been seeing, but I really do think that these are solutions that are worth looking into at any rate.

Skype phone number

The first one I'm going to suggest is in fact, Skype.

Skype allows you to purchase a phone number that can call your Skype account. What happens is: you would run Skype on your PC, your friends overseas call your U.S.-based Skype-in phone number, and that then would connect to your Skype on your PC.

I don't know if there are per minute rates for that one, but it's worth checking out as it is a well-supported and fairly popular option.

Google Voice

Another is Google Voice.

You can get a Google Voice number relatively inexpensively. I believe you can actually get a number for free. What I don't know is what kind of calling plans and so forth are included.

I know that for domestic-to-domestic calls (I think), it's all free. In fact, even just using Google mail in the United States, you can fire up a little applet that allows you to dial out.

But like I said, with Google Voice, you do get a phone number that people can call that at a minimum you can redirect to other phone numbers. It can take voicemail; it's one of the ways that I take voicemail for a couple of my phone numbers.

So it's another solution that is potentially worth looking into.

Vonage account

And finally, the other thing that came to mind is to get a Vonage account. Vonage is actually in the VoIP providing service here in the United States for residential customers.

What it boils down to with Vonage is you end up getting a little box that sits connected to your internet. Associated with that box is a phone number.

In my case, since I run Vonage here at home, it's my home phone number. When you call my home phone number, it ends up going through the internet (my internet connection) to my Vonage box and then it rings the phones in my house.

The interesting thing about using a service like Vonage is that when you take the box with you the number travels with you.

So, for example, I'm sitting here at Woodinville today and the box is sitting in my basement providing phone for the entire house. If, however I want to go on vacation, all I need to do is take the box with me to wherever I am and connect it up to the internet. As long as the internet connection is sufficient, then the Vonage calls (the calls that ring to my home number) will actually ring to that Vonage box wherever it might be.

So, that's another solution that you might look into. It doesn't necessarily connect up to your PC, but it would allow you to have incoming calls routed to wherever you happen to be, domestic or not.

So those are a couple of things that come to mind for a good inexpensive VoIP. Perhaps some of my readers will have additional ideas in the comments with this article. Hopefully, we'll come up with something that will work for you.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

Article C6138 - December 15, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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6 Comments
Roger McGuire
December 18, 2012 8:47 AM

I have been using "Net Talk Duo" for six months now. www.nettalk.com. It connects to your router or your computer. Can't beat the price. "$49.95" for the hookup And that's with a year of service for calls to anywhere in the U.S and Canada. After that it's $29.95 a year. They also will port your existing phone number over. Check it out, Can't hurt.

Paul Shivers
December 18, 2012 9:04 AM

We have been using MagicJack for several years so my wife and Sister-in-law can keep in touch with their family in the Philippines. I bought a MagicJack device with a local phone number and pay $19.95 for the service annually. Sent the MagicJack to the Philippines where our family there connects it to their computer and connects a regular phone to the MagicJack. We have unlimited talk time to the Philippines at no extra cost. It works well and is a big money saver.

The MagicJack Plus now available that does not require a computer, it can connect directly to your local area network via Ethernet just like a laptop or can still be plugged into your computers USB port, your choice...

Bill Chubb
December 18, 2012 9:10 AM

For many years I've been using a service called VoipCheap. [voipcheap.com] VoIP to VoIP calls are free and if you buy Euro10.00 calling credit you get a 90-day period during which you can call landlines most anywhere in the world free of charge and cellphones, too, in N America. At the end of the 90-day period you'll typically pay Euro0.01/min until you use the credit. In my case it usually takes me a month or two before I need to purchase more credit! You can also access the service using your own landline or cell to take advantage of voipcheap rates.
I cannot recommend too highly.

whs
December 18, 2012 10:19 AM

I am using Google Voice in combination with the Groove IP application on my Nexus 7. It is free in the US and free for calls from Europe to the US. Calling from the US to Europe is 2 cents/minute. There is no initial charge and Groove IP is free from the Google Play Store.

I know it works also on other Android devices. But you have to make the initial setup in the US.

Jens Gloersen
December 18, 2012 11:14 AM

I use VoipBuster to call the US from Norway. For 10.5 € you get 120 freedays, after they expire it is 0.01 € a minute.You can call Phone to Phone using regular phone numbers, or VoipB. to VoipeB. The last is free.

Don Gilcrease
December 18, 2012 4:48 PM

A couple of things. T-Mobile has a service called Bobsled (www.bobsled.com) that allows anyone to call any phone in the 001 country code (U.S. including Puerto Rico and Canada) free, with unlimited use. It works from PCs and tablets through the browser, and on any Android smart phone through an app. Kinda unbelievable.

When I was in India, I called the U.S. for free by using UltraSurf to tunnel through the U.S. UltraSurf servers. I then opened up my gmail account and used Google Voice to call phones. I've been back a year and a half, so Google may have blocked the UltraSurf servers since then, but if for some reason one didn't want to use Bobsled, it'd be worth a try - assuming you can find a copy of Google Voice. Google won't let you set it up through the browser if you're a ferner.

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