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How Do You Make International Calls? 431

Futurepower(R) asks: "How do Slashdot readers make international calls? I know about OneSuite, Vonage, Skype, and iConnectHere. I know that BigZoo is quitting business. What other telephone, VOIP, or other kinds of services are available? Is there any open source VOIP software that can connect directly through port 80, bypassing firewalls?"
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How Do You Make International Calls?

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  • I don't (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 31, 2004 @03:05PM (#11229145)
    I'm an American!

    (It's a joke! Not flamebait!)
    • Re:I don't (Score:2, Redundant)

      by Eric Giguere ( 42863 )

      How do Slashdot readers make international phone calls?

      For countries within the North American Numbering Plan [], I dial "1" + area code + local number. For other countries, I dial "011" + country code + local number. It's pretty simple, eh.

      Why the Vioxx recall (briefly) reduced spam [] (more humor)

      • Re:I don't (Score:3, Informative)

        by Mattcelt ( 454751 )

        Seriously, I dial '+', then the country code, city code, and private number, which works fine*.

        I've been very happy with my AT&T international dialing plan on my mobile. I pay <8c/minute for all international calls and I can use it anywhere - I'm not limited to making calls from home like I would be w/VOIP.

        *I don't know about others, but on Sony/Ericsson phones if you hold the '0' key for a second it will turn it to a '+' for international dialing.
  • I use (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mourgos ( 621534 ) on Friday December 31, 2004 @03:06PM (#11229153) They even provide you with an 800 number to use for free.
  • skype (Score:2, Interesting)

    It works
  • Easy (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 31, 2004 @03:08PM (#11229165)
    I use a telephone.
    • You're marked as funny, but that moderation needs to got to the submission instead. How to make an international call? Use the phone! You pick up the receiver, type in the number, wait a few seconds, then talk. Simple. Even if you're not subscribed to a long distance service, you can still buy a card from any of hundreds of retailers near you.

    • Simple:
      0-11-[Country Code]-[Number you wish to reach]
  • my system (Score:2, Funny)

    by kh4n ( 229345 )
    I yell really loudly
  • by sprior ( 249994 ) on Friday December 31, 2004 @03:09PM (#11229171) Homepage
    I have a linux based Asterisk PBX at home and sign up with to provide calling to POTS lines both US and international. nufone is a purely pay as you go so it costs very little to try them. The key is Asterisk, then there are a few options for the VOIP side.
    • As long as you have plenty of time to build and configure a PBX and you have enough knowledge about the phone system, yeah Asterisk is great. If you don't, then you should probably stick to the phone company or calling cards. The phone company (Verizon) is my mortal enemy, but I use them simply because its too difficult to use anything else. I don't want to waste bandwidth on VOIP, which leaves me with the option of cell phone, verizon or no phone at all...
      • Actually, you do not have to have knowledge of the phone system. Asterisk is easier to set up than apache (assuming that you stay with sip equipment). In fact, Asterisk has configs for just about every sip phone out there. At that point, you can then do direct asterisk calling (IAX) using free world, or just use one of the companies such as broadvoice. You can use kphone (and there is the equivilent gnome as well). As to the bandwidth, well, the max is 64K. Generally though, it is about 24K. IOW, far less
    • by jaredmauch ( 633928 ) <> on Friday December 31, 2004 @04:41PM (#11229877) Homepage
      Funny I should read this thread. I just finished converting my home over to mostly VoIP. Now, i don't have comcast or other residental providers, so YMMV as my situation is unique:
      I have a T1 at home, where I do various policing on my router to insure that my VoIP traffic is able to take that extra little bit over the top that TCP will normally try to stomp all over. (I'm rate limiting inbound tcp from my upstream). I also have LLQ (low latency queueing) configured to insure that the voip packets are the first that are sent out.

      I have a setup with a few 7960's, and a cisco 2610 with NM-2V, VIC-2FXO-M1= and VIC-2FXS. These handle taking my PSTN service (which is actually ISDN going through a Motorola BitSurfr Pro) and passing it out the FXS ports to ring throughout my house, as well as using asterisk I have it ring some of the IP phones as well.

      This allows me to:

      Use my own caller-id database in asterisk

      Buy unlocked ata-186's for family so they can call me and my wife for free

      Use nufone for outbound LD

      Be dependent upon electricity for my phone service (get a small UPS and you can keep yourself up for a day or so powering the BitSurfr, since that's all i need to be able to call 911, etc..)

      Route calls the lowest cost (local goes out one of the POTS/Bitsurfr ports)

      Log both outbound and inbound call times, so you know exactly when you ordered that pizza

      Be geeky and increase my slashdot karma ;-)

      Now, this is an overly complicated setup, but the point is that it's possible to set up a functional SIP/Asterisk solution for your home. You may be able to get one of the Soekris [] PCs and install your favorite free unix (yes, Asterisk even works on the dying *BSD ;) and keep your power requirements a lot lower (so you can do all that E911 foo).

      Nufone works nicely for my setup, and i cancelled my vonage (and gave the ata-186 to my wifes sister for christmas after paying $40+$15) so my overall costs are lower (except for the geeky maint part, and i still need to stick the cdrs into a database so they can be viewed on a webpage).

      YMMV if you do something like this, since most carriers are transporting the calls as IP on their own networks, expect the quality to be the same or only slightly degraded (watch the codec being used, you really want something like g711ulaw for the best quality sound) for your calls prior to reaching the foreign countrys PSTN.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 31, 2004 @03:09PM (#11229180)
    I have a magic box on my desk where I just lift part of it, type some numbers, and I get connected to the person I want to talk to. There's no IM but it's really easy to use. It doesn't even require a power connection, and it's super-simple. Only a "hangup" button and the numbers. Maybe Apple designed it?

    I think it works with VoIP, but it's so small and light I don't know where the computer is. There's a DSL wire so it must not be wireless. Maybe it's VoIP over DSL? Yes, that's probably it.

    A friend of mine says this is called a "Phone". I think that might be a play on "Vonage", I hope the Phone company doesn't infringe their trademark.

    Anyway I use it all the time and I get a bill every month for minutes used. Not the cheapest rates around but I"m willing to pay extra for simplicity and reliability (the other day we had a network problem in my office but the Phone still worked! They must have some good QoS routing).
    • (the other day we had a network problem in my office but the Phone still worked! They must have some good QoS routing).
      You have to admit though, as *cheap* as VoIP is - overall internet reliability may never reach that of the POTS network.
    • by xant ( 99438 )
      I bet you can't even send files that way.

    • I too use my magic box and have no complaints with it. I've done some interesting things with it, too.

      Some years ago when Nelson Mandela turned 70, the evening news mentioned the jail where he was (they hadn't turned him loose yet). So I called Cape Town information, got the number, phoned Polsmoor, and left a message for him. It sounded like the guy who answered the phone had been taking a lot of messages that day. He also very carefully took down my particulars, and I suspect there would have been no p

  • I send them an email and then they call me. No really.
  • by freeze128 ( 544774 ) on Friday December 31, 2004 @03:11PM (#11229189)
    I did. I got tired of them billing me $5 a month for a service that I never used, so I fired them (MCI).

    When the time came that I did need to place a long-distance call, the local phone company automatically picked the most expensive carrier. I fired them too, and then placed a block on my account so that the phone company could never 'SLAM' me again. Now I just use calling cards. Since I use long-disatnce service so infrequently, it makes the most financial sense.
    • No kidding. We had "Working Assets" as our long-distance company, and my daughter talked to her friend in Spain a couple times. They sent the call through some scam company that charged over $3/minute.
  • by DisasterDoctor ( 775095 ) on Friday December 31, 2004 @03:11PM (#11229193)
    I make quite a few international calls.

    The cost depends on two major factors....
    1. Which country you are calling
    2. Where the calls are originating

    I was a big fan of BigZoo, especially for calls from the U.S. into Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and most of the stans.

    Though I don't know why, most of the indepent resellers seem to be ditching the business.

    Your local company (AT&T, etc.) always seem to have the cheapest price into neighboring countries (Canada, Mexico, England, and now even Japan.)

    For calls originating outside of the US and calling in, callback services always seem to work best, though there doesn't seem to be much difference between them. The internet call back service are tolerance for voice communications.
  • 10 10 987 (Score:3, Informative)

    by psycht ( 233176 ) on Friday December 31, 2004 @03:13PM (#11229208) Homepage Journal
    I know it seems cliche, but I call my friend in Japan often (once or twice a month) and I used 10-10-987. Its pretty cheap. We'll talk for about 30mins and it only costs $3-4 USD.
    • OneSuite is only 4 cents to Japan. You could save a few bucks. And it is actually cheaper to call China or the UK than to call my relatives 20 miles away.
  • [] is almost exactly the same as BigZoo. Some of the automated voices are even the same, and the domestic rates (I didn't check international, since we don't need it) are exactly the same. Same available features, etc.
  • by Zach Garner ( 74342 ) on Friday December 31, 2004 @03:13PM (#11229212)
    Next On Ask Slashdot:

    How do you go to the bathroom?

    For help answering that question, I direct you to episode 3, season 4 of Beavis and Butthead: Trouble Urinating. []
  • The best way to get cheap international rates is with a phone card. Try this place [], I've had good experience with them. The rates are usually way cheaper than what any VOIP provider offers. Plus, it's convenient in that you can use any phone as long as it can call 1-800 numbers. If you have free long distance, you can use the "local access" (non-toll-free) numbers and save some more. The main things to watch out for with phone cards are connection fees, rounding, and expiration. Unlike a long distance
  • Not the cheapest, but it's simple, and almost guaranteed to work. Period.
  • cheap international (Score:5, Informative)

    by jonsmirl ( 114798 ) on Friday December 31, 2004 @03:15PM (#11229229) Homepage
    I find it hard to beat phone cards. has good selection. Pay a little more and get the ones from IDT. Their connections are much better than Entel. IDT phone cards are 1/10th the price of Verizon for calling South Africa and 1/3 Vonage direct dial. You can use phone cards from your cell phone and VOIP phones too.
    • I use these guys for calling Ecuador. No complaints and very easy to buy the cards.

    • Yup, me too. I can see the advantage of something like Skype for calling from a foreign country back home. Finding a phone card, then a public phone, then figuring out how to dial, maybe listening in foreign languages can be a pain. Usually Internet is easier to find.

      But for calling foreign countries from home, I find a phone card is much easier. Buy on the web, get the access #'s in e-mail, and dial away.

  • It works halfway across the globe with slow analog modem on the other end. Even Skype dies in this configuration. Skype also has horrible echo problems (even with echo suppression) which MSN Messenger for some reason does not have.

    So despite crappy UI, I have to use MSN Messenger. I save about $20 a month by doing so.
    • Horrible echo problems?

      Not on my OS X copy of Skype ... nor did I run into it on my Dell Axim X30 PDA ... sound quality is clear, no hint of echos at all.

      Perhaps you have your external speakers turned wayyyy up to "11". ?
      • Is the person you're talking to 6500 miles away? Skype audio is choppy, and there's a very noticeable delay. Skype just doesn't work for such long distances and low bandwidths.
        • I use skype regularly to call from Edmonton (Canada) to Germany and sometimes Japan.

          Occasionally I have some choppy connection, but even calls to places like Venezuela had pretty clear voice quality (On MacOS X).

          I don't think I've made a long distance phone call personally in a long long time.

        • Echo problems are caused by feedback from the earphones or speaker to the microphone. Use a headset to prevent feedback.

          For perfect sound quality, in Windows, do Control-Alt-Delete and select "Task Manager". Click twice on the CPU table heading to see what programs are using CPU time. Skype should be the only program using significant CPU percentage.

          I make calls from Brazil to France, U.S., and Australia, with perfect sound quality. I'm using a Telex headset, the one approved by Dragon Naturally Speak
    • That doesn't let you make phone calls, only talk to someone else with MSN Messenger. So, it's not a solution to the problem of making international long distance calls.

      Furthermore, even if MSN Messenger were technically better than other options right now, the solution would be to create other options that are not tied to a Microsoft service, since the consequences of Microsoft becoming a force in the VoIP market would be disastrous for everybody in the long term.

      However, I seriously doubt that MSN Messe
      • Nobody spends any dough on long distance anymore, and almost everyone has a computer.

        If I can save $240 a year (that's compared to the cheapest available calling cards!) by using MSN Messenger, you can bet your ass I'll be using MSN Messenger.

        As soon as MS starts charging for Messenger I'll move on to something else, or roll my own. So I'm not worried about them becoming a force in VoIP market, because I'm sure a lot of folks will do the same thing.
  • by lottameez ( 816335 ) on Friday December 31, 2004 @03:16PM (#11229233)
    Doesn't everybody?
  • by StarKruzr ( 74642 ) on Friday December 31, 2004 @03:20PM (#11229259) Journal
    Lingo [] Insanely cheap and really feature-rich. Call quality is excellent too. Indistinguishible from a standard POTS line.
  • I use []. I can call my daughter/son-in-law in England from the U.S. for something like .03/min, and my wife's brother in Thailand for .07. My daughter uses the same service to call us et al in the U.S. from England.

    Other international rates here [] You pre-pay for as many minutes as you want, and access is via a toll-free or local number.

  • BigZoo Alternative (Score:2, Interesting)

    by quanta ( 16565 )
    For reaching those more expensive places, like Africa, try []
  • Canadian here. I only ever have to call the US, really.

    For that, I just use my cellphone. I get 10/min (8.5 US) Canada/US long distance on it, so I just use it because it's convenient.

    I have some family in Holland, and I'd likely just use my cellphone to call them too. (Right now I live at home, and they call here a lot.)
  • I've been using Net2Phone []'s Communicator (desktop based VOIP service) for awhile now and I've been pretty happy with it. They recently removed the adverts that were contained in the desktop which had been my primary annoyance (since the service costs money, essentially, you are paying to see their adverts).

    I have run into problems occasionally where it will give a largely useless error stating they are having "Technical Difficulty" and can't place your call. Annoyingly, it seems to do this both when you
  • I wouldn't use Vonage under any circumstances on the simple basis that their TV ad is annoying as hell.

    "Woo-hoo-hoo,Woo-hoo-hoo,Woo-hoo-hoo,Woo-hoo-hoo ,W oo-hoo-hoo,Woo-hoo-hoo,Woo-hoo-hoo," ad nauseum ad infinitum.

  • My wife calls to Uzbekistan frequently and often buys a phone card. Usually she can get a decent rate like $0.20/minute or something.
  • and a very long piece of string.
    • So you're one of those people who lives in a house that straddles a border between two countries?

      Canadian Customs Officer: "Do you have anything to declare?"
      Qualico: "Uh yea I just went to the USA to take a crap... and I passed by the fridge to get a beer."
      Canadian Customs Officer: "You're 50ml over-quota for that quantity of alcohol you're importing. Please fill out this form, and pay 0.50$ in duties. Thank you."
  • Yahoo Messenger (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dallask ( 320655 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {ajninedoc}> on Friday December 31, 2004 @03:25PM (#11229291) Homepage
    They have integrated support for VOIP and if you can chat you can talk assuming that the other party has a mic.

    'Course, I think I loose my geek card or somthing for recomending somthing like yahoo over skype... but hey, it works... so long as you run Windows... I guess I lost my geek card along time ago. :)
  • BabyTEL (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Geoff NoNick ( 7623 )
    I'm a fan of babyTEL [] VoIP, myself. They're only available here in Canada, but it looks like they'll be offering service in the US within the next year. Definitely the cheapest long-distance I've seen.
  • When I was on vacation in 'Nam a month ago, the cybercafe near my hotel was selling eVoiz [] cards for 70,000VND for 3 hours of talk time.

    And while I was there, the exchange rate was about 13,000VND for 1$CA

  • Just stop by your local smoke shop (one owned preferably by a foreigner) and just ask them about calling cards. I found a local calling card that is meant only for calls within the USA that has the cheapest rates for calls in Europe that I have seen anywhere. I can call Cyprus for $0.04/minute, which is between 2 and 12 times cheaper than anything I could find online. The calling card is UNI Washington (local access by icallplus) and it actually gives me cheaper rates than the ones advertised in their webpa
  • there's an asian market across the street from my office and they have tons of calling cards advertizing really cheap rates. The other international markets I have been to have had them as well, so go find one and see what they have.
  • by Typingsux ( 65623 ) on Friday December 31, 2004 @03:32PM (#11229333)
    Now I can call those Nigerians cheaply regarding my forwarding them my bank account info and not hearing back. I'm awaiting at least 10 million!

  • A pain (Score:5, Informative)

    by MasTRE ( 588396 ) on Friday December 31, 2004 @03:36PM (#11229355)
    I have a lot of friends and family scattered around Europe that I keep in touch with. I know the calling abroad game as I've been doing it for decades. It is still a royal pain in the arse.

    Before VoIP, your only choice other than paying your regular LD provider a ton of money per minute was a calling card. These things are very problematic and inconvenient to use. First, you have to choose one that appears to have good rates to where you are calling. Then you have to read the fine print to see if they charge a connection fee, a maintenance fee, and so on. Usually, what appears to be a good deal isn't, unless you use up the whole amount in one call, or very few long calls. Then, after you find one that appears to be good overall, there's the difficulty of actually placing the call. Sometimes it's hard to very hard to get through, and it's a pain in the ass to keep calling their number, enter your pin, then dial the number. Some/most of these only allow a set number of attempts per call, so you have to keep calling back every X failed attempts. During peak usage of their network, like during the holidays, this becomes a huge problem. Then, if you get through, during peak usage call quality is fair at best, as they lower the bitrate to accommodate a larger volume of calls.

    Some providers allow you to sign up. It works the same as a calling card with but you are billed monthly. Sometimes they can read your home phone # so you don't have to enter a PIN every time you call. More convenient, but still inconvenient to use and annoying when you can't get through.

    Then there's pure VoIP, like Skype. Very convenient. No more wasting time finger-dialing 30-digit sequences of numbers. Add them to your address book then simply select & click call. Problems: very expensive (compared to the rates offered by calling cards) and sometimes you still can't get through.

    The adage of "what appears to be a good usually isn't upon closer inspection" applies here too. Skype, for example, boasts ~0.02/min to Western Europe. Yeah, if you call a land line. But it's pretty much a rule - when you call Europe, you'll be calling a mobile phone. I have friends who don't even have land lines. And the price for calling mobile numbers is much higher. And _not_ competitive with what the calling cards offer.

    So, it's pretty much a mess. I refrain from calling, as most of my friends have email and we keep in touch on a weekly basis. Add IM into the mix and you've got even less of a need for calling. Then some of them have broadband and headsets, so we can place calls for free over the net. The problem with this is that we must both be in a certain place at a certain time. When the planets align just right, it happens :)

    For emergency use, I purchased 10 of SkypeOut credit which I use when I need to call someone and express my love toward them I can't deal with the calling cards any longer, and I'm willing to pay a premium price for this advantage for my limited use. If I'd be a heavy user, I'd probably use the cheapest service that worked, tho.
  • I don't know about other countires, but for calls to greece, canada and long distance within the US I've been very happy with the rates from World-Link []. Their rates are very good and I don't have to worry about buying special equipment. The few times I've had to call customer service the experience as been quiet good.

    I think world-link is greek owned. It was nice when my parents wanted to sign up and they were able to do so in their native language.

    Found them after AT&T royally screwed me with a

  • I used this site [] a while back when researching, and ended up using 101 6868 [] prefix. No monthly fee, and only 7.9c minute to the UK.

    Ironically, my family can call me from the UK for less than 4c a minute. I have absolutely no idea why.

    All the "10 10" numbers are pretty cheap, but all have slightly different slants. If you're calling one country in particular, shop around until you find one that's best for you.

    cLive ;-)

  • After someone tried to scam me for some money, I learnt about,

    Great thing, it's free.

    So with the relay operator involved, would it be considered a "threesome", if you had phone sex with your partner? :->

    Here's some tips for ya if you decide to find out: x -tips. html html rm=pho ne+sex
  • port 80 (Score:2, Informative)

    by swilly2006 ( 845163 )
    Straight off the Skype Website: The minimum requirement is that Skype needs unrestricted outgoing TCP access to all destination ports above 1024 or to port 80 (the former is better, however). I use skype at my school, and they block all ports except 80, 110, and 443. Skype says the quality isn't as good, but I am unable to tell a difference when it uses just port 80.
  • Skype (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bhima ( 46039 ) <Bhima.Pandava@gmail. c o m> on Friday December 31, 2004 @03:57PM (#11229501) Journal
    I use Skype but only because it was the only VOIP package the people I want to talk to in the US could figure out how to install and use.

    However Skype has a few issues that really piss me off. One: you can't set the port in the OS X version (All version pick the port randomly). Two: It sounds weird on Mac but not on Win32. Three: Their FAQ dealing with this is ridiculous full stop: Ideally, outgoing TCP connections to all ports (1..65535) should be opened. This option results in Skype working most reliably.

  • About half of my family's in Moscow at the moment, so I'd like to see a straight answer from somebody.

    Is there a cheap alternative to calling cards? How well does it work to sign up for US VOIP service and plug the system in in Moscow? What kind of connection do they require?
  • by bigberk ( 547360 ) <> on Friday December 31, 2004 @04:03PM (#11229552)
    How do you make an international call? You call yourselves nerds??? #1, visit a phone booth and phreak a dialtone, hook up your MS-DOS powered PBX hunter, start dialing... #2 once you find a PBX, disable logging, #3 mask your CID, #4 dial Taiwan!

    disclaimer: don't do this, probably illegal
  • I am very happy with []. Ever since my daughter was abducted [], I have been making *lots* of calls to Mexico. Their rates are (still) cheaper than anything I've been able to find on VoIP, and the service and quality are very good.
  • We've been using vonage, make a lot of calls to UK and Argentina, usually runs 2 - 4 cents/minute, and the quality is excellent. M
  • $5 CDN ($4.15 US) for 8 hours of calls. No fuss, cheap and practical.
  • A good friend is married to a woman from Cuba. She can't go back to her country for several years as its only been a year since she essentially defected. Her family has no broadband, it sounds a bit tough to obtain,, and they are not technical. As opposed to standard Int'l rates (ie, my wife is Japanese and we can get 0.05/minute rates) Cuba costs about 85 cents/minute. Anyone have family, contacts in Cuba and know of a way to make cheap phone calls to the country?
  • by Peter Cooper ( 660482 ) on Friday December 31, 2004 @04:45PM (#11229898) Homepage Journal
    If you want to call overseas from the UK, it's cheap and easy, no cards or memberships needed. Just dial 0870 7946078 (weekdays) or 0844 5706078 (weekends) and once it answers, dial the full international number of where you're calling. The above numbers cost the same as a national call. I've been using this for a year or so now and it works great. (The company providing this is called DialSmart, if you want to google for them)
  • Earlier this month I canceled my long distance, dropped all the "calling features" from my local line, told the telco to not have any long distance or international long distance company assigned to my line, and signed up for BroadVoice []'s "Unlimited World []" plan.

    Background: BroadVoice is a consumer-targeted service from Convergent Networks [], which offers VoIP gear/services for businesses. They're based around Boston, maybe the Rt. 128 area, I think.

    Anyway, the "Unlimited World" thing costs about $20 a mo

  • Since I honestly do not think I've ever made an international call, I can assume that I would rack up quite a phone bill for the first 20 times of trial and error before finally being connected.

    Therefore I would do the only sensible thing there is do do - I'd go to my parents house to make the phone call :)

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal