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Avoiding phone charges

So over the years I've tried endless Apps that claim to have made calling overseas free by using IP tunnelling/VOIP or some other bit of faff that uses the internet for calls/video calls for free (or at least no more than the cost of the ISP you are already paying).

Looking at my phone now I can see:

Skype
WhatsApp voice calling
Botim
Hangouts
Dingtone

And if I look in the Appstore I can find another handful (Viber, HiTalk etc)

And yet to date, after several years of trying them all, none of them are my choice of service to use when I need to speak to someone overseas.

I don't usually tend to have casual chats for long periods over the phone - I tend to use the phone when I need to speak to someone. Now. And usually with a definite reason to need to do so.

With all these services I am endlessly frustrated by either not having contact details/account names right, not having good enough coverage to get a connection, not having enough coverage to actually hold a proper conversation that doesn't cut out/hang up or just deteriorate over the course of a 2 minute chat to need to call back.

And when I do call back - I just use the normal phone service and pay the money. And 99 times out 100 that normal phone service is reliable and usable.

I guess it's a case of you get what you pay for - but in all honesty I don't know why they are so poor. The internet service that I use seems to keep everything else working quickly and accurately and seems able to stream video and other content quite happily from servers that are usually overseas - but reliable transmission of basic speech (I'm not interested really in video calls) seems beyond their capability most of the time.

Is it just me? Do other people make use of Skype, WhatsApp Voice Calls etc with no apparent issues?

(This is ****ing me off at the moment as MrsDibnah is in New York seeing her dad for valentines day and we've tried Skype and Botim twice this weekend to catch up and both times we've failed miserably to connect/speak for more than 20 seconds at a time - if at all!)
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Here are my solutions:

Get a tarif that includes free voice and data when roaming. (At least in Europe and the US.)

Dual SIM phone so you can have a local SIM to cover places where data roaming isn't included.

Get a Google Voice number if you spend time in the US.
Google Voice is still dirty cheap for outgoing calls even if you are not in the US and calling internationally.
I charged my number up with $10 about 3 years ago and there is still $9-odd on there.
(Google are currently pulling Voice back out of Hangouts so this should get better this year.)
It was playing up before I went to Japan, but reinstalling the Google Voice app got incoming calls ringing on the mobile again.



Use a less well known, reliable app for Family. (LINE)

Job jobbed...



Also watch out for the Free-to-borrow 4G phones from Handy in some far east hotel rooms...
Brilliant things.

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Not free, but for the USA GiffGaff charges 2p/min for calls. The USA is one of Three's "feel at home" destinations, so calling UK numbers costs the same as if you were in the UK & data's only 1p/mb. Dual-SIM phone, job's a good 'un!

Not entirely relevant to this thread, but as a very low user on PAYG I'm getting free calls, etc, from GiffGaff. Just a few posts on their forum & I get points which I can take as credit - £31 over the last six months!
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There are various "override providers" where you phone them first, then dial your number, and typically pay local charges plus a a few pence per minute. Haven't used one for the USA, but do for India. Not as cheap as VOIP, but cheaper than standard calls, and there's no sign up or hassle involved.
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rxe
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The free services are mostly rubbish. I can spend all day on Skype “for business” talking to people all over the globe, no dropouts, no problems. I assume that someone in my company is paying for quality of service that you don’t get for free. I have no idea how to buy this service as a regular user.
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I use Whatsapp for calls overseas, seems to work well? Only problem is if you get a normal call come through it drops the Whatsapp call.
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I used to have skype world service, handy as I could set up local numbers overseas for folk that needed to to dial to call me. Also gave me skype-in so I dial a local number from my mobile using its free minutes and it lets you select the number to call on to and it routes accordingly. USA and some other countries the on-route was free (or included) even to mobiles. Also no lag or drop-outs as not relying on mobile broadband to carry the call that way. No idea if this still applies tho since u-sh1te took them over as everything skype seems to have gone downhill since then...
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