Sometimes, the people you want to connect with won’t always be close to home. Whether you’re travelling around the world or staying in touch with people from other countries, you need a way to cross those geographical boundaries when you communicate.
A standard phone contract usually isn’t enough, with some suppliers charging insane prices if you frequently make calls outside of your own country. Even buying a new local SIM card in every destination you visit can be a serious headache.
Broadband Genie has provided this guide so you can have international conversations without spending a small fortune on your phone bill.
VoIP: Calling on the Internet
The internet is the tool that keeps most people connected these days, so it only makes sense that we would use it to facilitate international calls too. VoIP, or Voice Over Internet Protocol, is the technology that allows you to have conversations with friends, colleagues, and loved ones over the web. Because you’re connected through the internet, you’re safe from those expensive fees associated with standard international calling.
Today, VoIP is a common tool for businesses who do a lot of work with international clients and customers. However, any consumer can use the same technology too. There are even apps that allow you to make VoIP calls from your smartphone.
The Pros and Cons of VoIP
VoIP is an easy-to-use solution for people who regularly make international calls. You don’t have the global fees, and you can usually use a VoIP application with just about any device, whether it’s a smartphone, a tablet, or a computer. If you have a connection to the internet, you’re ready to go.
- International range: You can call people all over the world without any global fees.
- Price: VoIP services are much cheaper than paying for a standard phone line or an international SIM card. You can even use some VoIP apps for free.
- Simplicity: VoIP apps are designed to be easy to use. Making a call through a VoIP system is no tougher than calling someone through a standard phone.
- Quality calls: It’s much easier to maintain a high-quality call, even when you’re connecting with someone internationally through a VoIP call.
- Reliability: VoIP systems have failsafe’s in place to make sure that your call doesn’t drop because of a bad connection.
- Extra features: Some VoIP apps come with extra features, like the option for video calling, or call recording if you need it.
Of course, there are some potential downsides to VoIP too.
For instance, calling people over the internet requires a strong connection. You’ll need around 300KB for download speed for standard video calling via Skype. HD video calling requires around 500KB. A good internet connection is a must-have even for an audio call. If your internet is slow, you might struggle to enjoy a good call.
You’ll also need to ensure that the person you want to call has access to the same VoIP app as you. This might mean asking someone else to download a new piece of software.
VoIP calls can also potentially eat up a lot of data on your smartphone if you don’t have access to a Wi-Fi connection when you’re dialling out.
The Best Apps for VoIP Calling
One bit of good news for today’s consumers is that there are tons of VoIP apps that are easy to use (and even free to a certain extent) for beginners. Options include:
- Discord: A common choice for people who chat over the internet, Discord is great for one-on-one calls, and group chats with friends.
- Skype: One of the best-known VoIP calling apps on the market, Skype for Business is free to download and use, although you do need to pay for international calls.
- Facebook Messenger: Popular among people of all ages, Facebook Messenger isn’t just a chat application; it’s also a solution for VoIP and video calls.
- WhatsApp: WhatsApp is a great way to connect with people all over the world through chat, video, and voice. The app is easy to use and all you need is someone’s phone number to contact them.
- Signal: A popular product for people worried about privacy, Signal provides fantastic encryption, privacy features, and security too. There’s also the option to integrate with existing phone numbers and contacts on your phone.
- Google Duo: Google is a handy international calling app that supports both video and voice over Google. You and your family or friends both need access to the Duo app to make a call via Google Duo.
- Viber: A handy way to make free voice and video calls to other users, Viber even gives you cheap rates for making calls to mobile phones and landlines. All you need to do to get started is to register a valid phone number.
- FaceTime: One of the best-known free calling apps for iPhone and Apple users, FaceTime allows you to call people over Wi-Fi, or with your mobile data. There’s access to the app in regions all over the world.
What About International SIM Cards?
VoIP apps offer a quick and simple way for people to communicate over the internet with friends and loved ones around the world. However, VoIP isn’t your only option. You could also consider using an international SIM card. These cards aren’t linked to a specific country, which means that you can use them to call people all over the world.
International SIM cards are handy because you can make sure that you know what rates you’re going to pay before you start making calls, which is great for budgeting. You don’t need someone to be using the same app as you, and you’re safe if you can’t find an internet connection.
Unfortunately, International SIM cards can still be quite expensive, regardless of where you shop for your plan. You’ll need to do some significant research beforehand to make sure you’re getting a good deal. Right now, popular options include:
- Lycamobile: The rates for international SIM cards on Lycamobile vary depending on where you are in the world. You’ll also be able to choose a SIM depending on how much data you need and how many minutes you want.
- O2: O2’s international SIM solution allows you to purchase any international card and top it up with the amount of credit you need as you travel. You’ll spend 5p a minute on calls to mobiles or 1p a minute on calls to landlines.
- EE: EE has international SIM cards that usually last for up to 30 days. There are various packages to choose from, such as an International Pack for £10 which supports 150 minutes of calling minutes, 500MB of data, and 150 texts.