I’m looking at grad schools overseas, mostly in Europe.
As part of the process, I need to make some calls to these universities to chat with faculty, administrative staff, etc.
If I were to call, say, Switzerland from my Verizon cellphone, I would pay about $1.49/minute. If I wanted to pay $3.99/month, the rate drops to $0.08/min to landlines and $0.32/min for mobiles. That gets expensive quick. Qwest landline rates are comparable. I used to use Vonage, and calls to Swiss landlines are free on their standard World plan, but I don’t have their service any more.
Enter Google Voice. I already use it as my primary number and for voicemail, so deciding to use it for international calls was easy. One simply pre-pays for credits in blocks of $10 (which don’t expire) and then places a call from the web or dial-in phone interface. Costs me a whopping $0.02/min to landlines, which is much more palatable.
Since each endpoint is an actual phone, rather than a computer (like Skype, which has slightly higher rates), call quality is consistently good. The calls probably travel over some IP connections at some point, but there’s no jitter/lag that I could detect.
Even cooler: inbound caller ID works through Google Voice when international callers call me, at least those from Switzerland.
Hey, big phone companies: Vonage and Google can offer the same (and frequently more) services you do for considerably less money. Nickel-and-diming people for things like Caller ID, call waiting, and voicemail is losing you money. Your infrastructure was paid off a long time ago. Get with the program.
FTC Disclaimer: Do you see any referral links? Does it look like Google pays me money? If so, I’d have some Scrooge McDuck-style money vault and fancy food and drink rather than eating Clif bars and Dr. Pepper.
Google: I’m sure I can find some room in my condo for a Scrooge McDuck-style money vault if you feel the need to ship me a railcar worth of gold coins. Just sayin’.