Advice for calling US Mobile Phone?

Discussion in 'VOIP' started by Mark, May 22, 2005.

  1. Mark

    Mark Guest

    Hi, I live in the UK and my girlfriend is going to america as part of an
    exchange programme for the summer.

    Does the cheapest/easiest way for us to keep in contact simply involve
    her buying any old USA pay as you go mobile phone and then me calling
    her via a voice over ip service? Can anyone recommend a decent one with
    not too much lag? Or is there a better method than this, ie: is it
    cheaper to register with one of those calling card companies in the UK
    and call using their number? This'd be great if I could use a UK mobile
    phone to call her and not pay through the roof?

    Thanks for your help!

    Mark, May 22, 2005
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  2. Mark

    Ivor Jones Guest

    Will there be broadband access where she'll be going..? If so she could
    take a VoIP ATA and you could both use something like Sipgate
    ( which would mean totally free calls. Of course you'd
    have to buy the ATA's but alternatively you could use a softphone such as
    X-Lite if PC's are available.

    If you want to go the mobile route, then if she gets a US PAYG phone you
    can call it using either inclusive minutes on an Orange or O2 mobile via
    Pre-Dial, or at relatively cheap rates from Sipgate (1.5p/min) or
    Telestunt/Telediscount etc. from a BT/Telewest line.

    Hope this helps,

    Ivor Jones, May 22, 2005
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  3. Does your girl friend have broadband in the US? Do you have a landline
    in the UK? Do you have broadband.

    Calling the UK is really cheap from the US with a calling card. I use, it is two something cents a minute. In the other
    direction, look at Half a p a minute. They also, have
    a VOIP program. I
    Does your girl friend have a triband? One of the better prepaid
    offerings comes from Their speakout wireless phones are
    effectively free and the per minute rate is $US0.20 a minute. It works
    nationwide in the US, and has a one year expiry. Remember that in the
    US incoming calls come out of your bucket of minutes.
    Stuart Friedman, May 22, 2005
  4. using 18866 or the like could be cheaper, depending on rates offerred
    by the VoIP provider for calls out to US numbers.

    Prepay is far less common in th eUSA and mobiles have standard area
    code numbers.

    Phil Thompson, May 23, 2005
  5. Mark

    Mark Guest

    Does the cheapest/easiest way for us to keep in contact simply involve
    Thanks for all your advice so far guys, everyone that replied to my

    I do have broadband, though she won't have internet access when she's
    over there I don't think.

    I like the idea of something like the pre-dial service, that seems
    pretty cheap, and I could call their access number using the free
    landline minutes I get with my '3' mobile contract here in the UK.

    You say that prepay telephones arent that common in the US, are they
    available anywhere at all? She doesn't have a triband phone... She'll
    be working in or around the ocean city area in maryland... can she pick
    up a prepay mobile there do you think?

    Mark, May 23, 2005
  6. Mark

    Mark Guest

    Sorry by this do you mean that if someone from abroad calls any native
    US mobile phone, even if that phone is in the US, they have to pay to
    /receive/ the call? Or does that go for all calls?

    Mark, May 23, 2005
  7. All calls with a few exceptions (e.g. certain mobile to mobile calls, some
    off peak calls, etc.). All the exceptions are plan specific.

    Stuart Friedman, May 23, 2005
  8. Mark

    Mark Guest

    That's mad. I can't find anything on the 7-Eleven Speak Out site about
    having to pay for incoming calls, it says incoming texts but doesn't say
    incoming calls, can you point me to where to find out about this?
    Mark, May 23, 2005
  9. Mark

    CharlesH Guest

    Mark wrote:
    \> Sorry by this do you mean that if someone from abroad calls any native
    In the U.S., the user of a mobile phone always pays airtime whether
    calling or receiving a call. For people on post-pay, they generally have
    a fairly large bucket of included peak-time minutes per month, and many
    such plans include unlimited free off-peak and weekend airtime. Also, it
    is very common for all calls to other users of the same provider to be
    free at all times. These free times do not apply to pre-pay users.
    Furthermore, since the mobile phone user pays for incoming airtime,
    there is no surcharge for the caller to call a mobile phone. Mobile
    phone numbers in the U.S. cannot be identified by the number, and in
    fact, a number can be moved between a landline and mobile provider.
    CharlesH, May 23, 2005
  10. Thus spaketh Mark:
    In the USA the owner of the mobile you are calling has to pay to receive your
    call or it comes out of some of their inclusive minutes, some networks may
    allow for the first 30 seconds or so of an incoming call to be free. This
    also means it costs the same for you to call a USA mobile as it does a USA
    landline. Crazy system I know, and one I am glad never took off here in
    Europe and elsewhere. It might not mention about paying for incoming calls on
    some of the websites as in the USA it is common knowledge you have to pay.
    {{{{{Welcome}}}}}, May 23, 2005
  11. Mark

    Mark Guest

    I see. Hmm. Okay then, well, leading up to my final questions :).. Can
    anyone recommend what network the cheapest Pay-as-you go mobile she
    could pick up would be, that would charge the least amount to receive an
    incoming call from Britain? Just some pointers would be cool, I know so
    little about US mobile companies that I just need somewhere to start.
    Coverage would have to be good in the Ocean City area of Maryland.

    Thanks again!!
    Mark, May 23, 2005
  12. Mark

    Joseph Guest

    Just don't forget that she'll be paying part of the freight as US
    mobile system is charged for both incoming and outgoing calls. There
    is no penalty however for calling a mobile number. The rate to call
    is the same as a fixed line.

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    Joseph, May 23, 2005
  13. I cannot point you to the specific provision on the website, but I can tell
    you that in the U.S. mobile numbers are on the same area codes as landlines,
    that calls to mobiles are not surcharged, and that we normally pay for
    incoming calls on our mobile plans. Even on contract plans, the exceptions
    are few and far between. We have free mobile to mobile calls on many
    contract plans (and on a small number of prepaid plans), we have free nights
    and weekends, but incoming calls are come out of our bucket of minutes.

    Whether the U.S. system or the European system of caller pays is a better
    system has been debated extensively on various groups before. I go both
    ways on this point and have no definitive answer.
    Stuart Friedman, May 23, 2005
  14. Mark

    Joseph Guest

    That's nonsense that prepaid are not common in the US. Most every
    operator has some sort of prepaid. T-Mobile, cingular, 7-11, Virgin
    Mobile, Locus Mobile, Beyond Wireless, CallPlus and others. The only
    GSM prepaid in the "traditioal" sense is T-Mobile, cingular.

    You can pick up a prepaid package from most any of the ones mentioned
    above. To get a prepaid SIM you're likely to get a better deal by
    going to eBay than you are going to a traditional store. With the
    non-GSM providers you'll likely have to buy a phone from them for
    their service unless you can find a used phone that was on their
    service previously. This is also true with 7-11 though it is a GSM
    MVNO you cannot buy just the SIM from them. It's definitely not as
    convenient as it is in Europe.

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    Joseph, May 23, 2005
  15. Incoming calls cost the same whether the originator is in the UK or across
    the street. The cheapest pay as you go plan carries a per day usesage charge
    or very short termination periods. I think the best values on whole are
    Virginmobile (, the 7-11 offering that I
    mentioned, icallplus, In a few cities there is an
    interesting alternative in a few select cities called Cricket
    Stuart Friedman, May 23, 2005
  16. Mark

    Mark Guest


    Hmm, it looks like most of these charge around 0.10c a minute to receive
    calls, looks like it's pretty much standard across the board, apart from
    Cricket which doesn't cover Maryland...

    Beginning to think it might actually be a lot cheaper to swap the odd
    text and leave the onus on her to call me using a cheap calling card,
    since that'll be far cheaper than the 10c a minute to receive an
    incoming call, and then me do the same if she can get access to a landline..

    Thanks for everyone's help :)

    Mark, May 23, 2005
  17. Mark

    Joseph Guest

    Cheapest is Beyond Wireless.

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    Joseph, May 23, 2005
  18. Mark

    Miguel Cruz Guest

    If you will be talking a fair bit, then she should get a post-paid plan that
    includes a fair-sized pail of minutes.
    Anything that doesn't involve mobile phones will be a lot cheaper (pretty
    close to free if you do it right).

    Miguel Cruz, May 23, 2005
  19. Mark

    Ivor Jones Guest

    Not mad at all. The US school of thought is simple - *you* choose to go
    mobile, therefore *you* pay for the privilege. Why should a *caller* have
    to pay extra because *you* want to go out..?

    It's not normally a problem as most US calling plans have more inclusive
    minutes than you know what to do with, but for PAYG you have to watch out.
    Also note that calls are usually billed by the minute not the second, so a
    1 minute 5 second call costs you 2 minutes.

    BTW please note that top posting is frowned upon in this group, thanks.

    Ivor Jones, May 23, 2005
  20. yes they are available but watch out for things like no roaming to
    other networks, no roaming outside the home city or State etc. They
    aren't common like in the UK, by far the majority are on contract
    phones (paying for incoming calls is a factor).

    GSM coverage has improved a lot but isn't everywhere by a long chalk,
    so a review of maps is called for. Their are analogue and digital
    prepay options (Virgin Mobile using Sprint is digital but not GSM so
    texting won't work).

    Phil Thompson, May 23, 2005
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