International calling isn’t as expensive as it used to be, particularly with the increasing prominence of VOIP (Voice Over IP) services such as Skype. Nevertheless, it can still be very pricey to use your cell phone abroad, which is why I’ve written about using Google Voice and Facetime to connect with family while abroad.
At the moment it’s not me but my wife who is abroad, and I’m finding that improvements to Apple’s Facetime service have rendered international calling nearly obsolete. Note: I write about Facetime here because we’re a Mac/iOS family, but one could use Skype or Google+ Hangouts to the same effect. So long as you have access to a wifi signal while abroad, you can both see and speak with your family from your computer, phone, tablet, or combination of the three.
Perhaps these are obvious observations, but I’ve been struck during this trip by how easily and often my wife can connect with me and the kids through Facetime, without using a single international minute or megabyte of interational data. When she calls via Facetime, her call rings on the family computer, my phone, and my iPad. This means that I or the kids can answer (on some device) regardless of what else we’re doing. For less important exchanges, we can chat through Facebook or Twitter. In short, I’ve barely noticed the lack of cell phone service. Given the ubiquity of video streaming services like Facetime, Skype, and G+, I don’t anticipate paying for international phone coverage again anytime soon.
How do you communicate with others internationally? Have you stopped incurring charges for international phone calls? Please share in the comments.