Just a Click and a Phone Call Away
A few years ago, cellular companies did us all a huge favor by charging the same for a call across the country as for a call across the street. It kicked the floor out from under long-distance rates long before VoIP savings arrived.
Now we cell phone users can show our gratitude by using a new breed of VoIP websites to sidestep one of the cellcos' few moneymakers: international calling charges. Services like Cordia, Globe Dialer, JaJah, Pingo and Rebtel let us hop onto the internet and overseas via our cell phones--typically for 2 to 25 cents a minute (plus any plan minutes used). Rates vary by country, but providers claim to save you up to 90 percent over the cellcos' international plans.
Note: These are mobile calls, not PC connections over wired services like Skype. And unlike Skype, the new VoIP services aren't waiting for the FCC to force cellcos to share the networks they've spent bazillions to build. They get in and out of the cellular walled gardens using combinations of toll-free land-line numbers, software downloads, text signals, callbacks and call forwarding.
Rebtel, for example, assigns you and your contacts different local numbers to reroute cell calls over the internet. Cordia has your overseas buddies use a toll-free number, then forwards the calls to your cell. JaJah and Globe Dialer require software downloads, while Pingo uses local or toll-free access numbers with its prepaid calling cards. It's always a multistep process with varying amounts of hassle. But you don't need to be near a wired broadband connection, and how does 12 cents a minute to your buddies in Brunei sound? Pick the service whose methods you can tolerate and that serves the countries where your foreign contacts live.