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.
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.
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.)