Tag Archives | vonage

Getting a Local Argentine Phone Number (with Vonage)

Vonage Argentina Phone NumberWe’re heading back to the US for a 3-month visit and during this time we need to be able to keep in touch with family and friends in Buenos Aires. Rather than the hassle of the old days where we had to use expensive international dialing and calling cards, now we simply get a local Argentine phone number from Vonage to take with us.

I’ve been a huge fan of Vonage for many years due to their excellent quality and reliability. I use it in Argentina and the call quality is crystal clear, plus I can forward calls to my mobile phone for a low rate when I’m out. (This has proven to be better than any iPhone apps due to the spotty 3G coverage here.)

Their “virtual phone number” feature allows you to get a local number in any of the 21 countries they support. So, for an additional $9.99/month, we’re able to get a local Argentine number that we can give to everyone while we’re away. Convenient and simple. We just take the Vonage router back to the US with us and plug it in there. Plus, we do not have to worry about whether family and friends have a smartphone with the right app – they simply call a local number.

While we’re using this local number for traveling, this could also be an option for those who need a local Argentine number and do not have a DNI. As our local phone bill is only U$S3/month, that’s the better option for us, so we’ll simply cancel this virtual number when we get back to Argentina.

 

0

Vonage Reduces Cost to Call Argentine Cell Phones by 65%

I’ve long been a customer and fan of Vonage, so it was especially nice to get an email from them today announcing a number of rate decreases.  While Vonage offers free calls to most foreign landline phones, they often charge for calling mobile numbers.

With today’s announcement, they have reduced the per-minute rate from U$S 0.17 to U$S 0.06 for calls to Argentine cell phones. (They have also reduced the rate for mobile calls to Colombia, Peru, Dominican Republic and Venezuela.)   This now means that calls to Argentine mobile phones from my Vonage line are significantly cheaper than calling with my local Movistar pre-paid cell phone. And yes, that is a bit crazy.

What makes this especially attractive is that you can now call forward your US Vonage number to your Argentine cell phone and receive calls from the States when you are not at home for only $0.06 per minute. This is great for people who conduct business with the States and need to be available when they are out.

Vonage also offers a mobile app for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry that could prove to be the cheapest way to make calls while overseas. For $24.99/month you get unlimited calling plus the new low rates. Skype currently charges $0.021/minute for landlines and $0.204/minute for mobile phones.

Way to go Vonage! It’s always nice to see prices actually decrease every once in awhile.

1

Expat Tech: Google Voice Coming Soon

Google VoiceMore interesting news from Google – they have just announced Google Voice, a new service that will give you a new US phone number from Google with a slew of services to go along with it.  The basic premise of Google Voice is that you will have one number for all your phones, for life.  When this number is called, it can ring all of the phones that you have (home, work, cell) and also handle voice mail.  As these numbers change, your Google Voice number will remain the same.

Now, most expats are already using voice-over-ip (VOIP) services like Vonage or Skype, so why would you need this service?  While it’s true that this is not a VOIP service (yet) and you will still need an existing phone to place and receive calls, Google is offering a tremendous number of services that most other VOIP don’t provide – and they’re doing it for free.  Some of these services include:

  • Call US numbers for free and cheap international calling (might be cheaper than using another VOIP service)
  • Voicemail transcripts – receive your voicemail as email or text messages automatically converted from voice to text (Vonage charges $.25 per message for this)
  • Call screening – announce and screen callers
  • Listen in – listen before taking a call
  • Block calls
  • Taking calls – answer on any of your phones (No word on whether it will support international numbers or what the cost would be.)
  • Phone routing – phones ring based on who calls
  • Forwarding phones – add phones and decide which ring
  • Listen to voicemail – check online or from your phone
  • Notifications – receive voicemails via email or SMS
  • Personalize greetings – vary greetings by caller
  • Conference calling
  • Call record – record calls and store them online
  • Call switch – switch phones during a call
  • SMS – send, receive, and store SMS
  • And more… (Visit the Google Voice features page for the rest and to view short videos on these services)

The free SMS services are especially interesting since many expats are unable to send and receive US-based text messages, so this would be an easy way to enable that.  And, SMS text messages are becoming more and more critical as many US-based services use them as an additional measure of security for authenticating accounts (PayPal, Craigslist, etc.) or for approving bank transactions (I had this at Bank of America but had to turn it off when I moved to Argentina).

The downsides to Google Voice?

  • You will need to pick a new number from Google as there is not currently any way to transfer your existing number to them. This means changing your old number everywhere.
  • You still need a US based number for the call forwarding to work. At this time, the service is US only.  Though you could sign up just to get a free number with voicemail, SMS, etc. and not have the forwarding or calling features.
  • The Google Voice service is not yet available but will be rolling out over the next few weeks.  You can sign up to be notified when it launches.
  • There is no fax support, so it may not replace all of your numbers yet.

All things considered, it looks like an amazing service and I’ve already signed up for the wait list.  You can read more abotu Google Voice at:

–  Google Voice: A push to rewire your phone service [C|Net]
GrandCentral To (Finally) Launch As Google Voice. It’s Very, Very Good. [TechCrunch]

4

Setting Up Telephone and Cell Phone Service

Setting up phone service when you moved out of the country used to be a lot more complex. With the Internet and voice-over-ip services, everything is pretty simple.

Telephone: Vonage
I’ve had a Vonage phone number in the NYC (212) area code for almost four years now and it’s moved wherever I’ve gone. I’m keeping this number in Buenos Aires so that friends and family can contact me by dialing a US number, and I can make unlimited calls to the US, Canada and Puerto Rico. I signed up for a year of service in advance for $239.99 (about $20 per month). With Vonage, I can also add unlimited calling to a number of other countries including Argentina for $6/month. Unfortunately, this does not apply to cell phone numbers, which mostly operate on the calling party pays system. Calls to cell phones cost $.21/minute, so I won’t be forwarding my missed Vonage calls to my cell phone as I did in the US.

I’ve also read that a number of people have used Skype, so you may want to check that out. I’ve been a long time Vonage subscriber and have been happy with the service. If you decide to sign up for service, contact me for a referral and we’ll both get up to 2 months of free service.

Cell Phone: T-Mobile
I have read that electronics can be expensive and outdated in Argentina and the best thing to do is to bring your US cell phone with you (provided it is quad-band). Then, buy a pre-paid local SIM card to use in your existing phone. Since I have a Blackberry Pearl and have been pretty happy with it, that’s what I’m doing. The first thing I needed to do was call T-Mobile and get the unlock code for my phone. The unlock code is needed to allow your phone to work on a different network than the one where you purchased your phone.  They were surprisingly helpful and told me that I would have the unlock code and instructions in an email within 24 hours. Sure enough, by the next morning I had the code and instructions for unlocking my phone.

Luckily, my T-mobile phone was out of contract, so there were no termination fees for me to pay.  I was very attached to my (917) number though and wanted to keep it.  I had three options:

  1. Transfer it over to Vonage and tie it into my exisitng account as a virtual phone number for $4.99 per month
  2. Transfer it over to Vonage as a new account or a second line on my existing account for $14.99 – $24.99 per month
  3. Switch it with T-Mobile from a monthly account to a pre-paid account and only pay for what I used

I decided that Option 3 worked best for me. I could keep my number and also have a SIM card and phone to use when I take trips back to the US, plus there is no monthly fee to pay. I can also set my voicemail message to let people know what my Vonage number is if they want to reach me. Unfortunately, you cannot set up your pre-paid numbers to forward to your Vonage phone number as you can with a regular cell phone plan.

For some more reading, Wikipedia has a good article on telephone numbers in Argentina.

8