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My American extended family is pretty clueless about making international calls. It seems that buying an international phone card and/or figuring out country codes is just too much for them. What can be done to make it easier for people in the US to call the UK?

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Skype is really brilliant and I use it a lot to make video and/or voice calls. Sometimes just want to pick up the phone and call someone the "old" way. For that I resort to VOIP (Voice over IP).

While in the UK you could buy yourself a US VOIP number. It works over the Internet pretty much like Skype, only it is accessible through traditional phone dialling. My provider nomado seems to have US phone numbers on offer. From your part it takes some proficiency in computer technology to get it running, but for the persons calling you it is as simple as calling a US phone number.

If you have a voip enable phone, all it takes is adding the account details and you are set. I have a siemens gigaset, which has the benefit it combines both the normal phone lines with VOIP. If you choose to go for the same brand, make sure IP is part of model number.

Currently all our calls are received on the same phone. I also have a client installed on my computer, which has the added benefit that I am reachable on my land line if I am not at home.

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  • You can do this with Skype also if you are willing to buy one of their phones. – StrongBad Mar 17 '14 at 11:50
  • @strongBad it has been a while since I used a skype phone, but aren't they suppose to work the other way around? That is calling people with Skype accounts. – Andra Mar 17 '14 at 12:12
  • @Andra I think you can do both if you have a Skype phone + a SkypeIn subscription. Skype is not only a desktop video-chat client, they have several other offers. Basically, this is the same solution than the one I described in my answer, only from another provider than Skype. – Gala Mar 17 '14 at 12:23
  • @Andra you can use it either way, but most of the phones don't have video so I think it is less about calling other Skype users. – StrongBad Mar 17 '14 at 12:30
  • The first word is the only answer necessary. – Flimzy Apr 7 '14 at 23:07
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Do they have a computer? If so, Skype is pretty win-win.

Skype program

(source)

They can install it (or a tech-savvy friend can), and then once it's set up, it's a case of:

  1. open Skype
  2. click name you want to call
  3. start talking

and it's free from computer to computer, and very cheap to landlines.

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4

Another variant using Skype is their SkypeNumber or online number service (formerly called “SkypeIn”). Unlike Skype's regular voice-over-IP service, there is a monthly fee but there are several advantages:

  • Overall costs are still reasonable compared to traditional long-distance/international calls
  • It's completely transparent to the caller, they just call something that looks like a regular local/national number, no computer is involved
  • You pay for it, depending on their phone contract it might even be completely free to them

Caveat: The terms of use are (probably deliberately) vague on potential residency requirements. In some places, it might conceivably be illegal to get a number without living there. I assume being able to provide a US address or US credit card would be enough in practice, if even necessary (I personally never tried to get a number in the US).

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3

The easiest is this: dial91.com. I have been using this service to call my buddies in India for a few years now. The quality is amazing! It costs me about a cent a minute. The calls to UK are 2 cents a minute from the US. I find this service the easiest to use because, they offer me local US numbers that I can dial into, then speed dial from there (they also have a smart phone app). The speed dial numbers can be setup on their website under your account (and your phone number can be registered as well - all this is a one time effort of a few minutes). So if I have to call buddy X then I call one of dial91's US numbers saved on my phone and then dial the speed dial code for X. Thats all.

I personally hate to be in a contract, but, I have also heard good things about Vonage.

I usually like to have quality in my phone calls and am willing to pay for it. In my experience I have always found skype calls to cell phones lacking in quality (for video calls with even with I being on a 30 Meg line and the other party on a 10 Meg line ! and a phone d/l u/l speed of 4 and 1 Meg).

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