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Satphones, Cell Phones or VoIP: Which Method is Right for Your Overseas Trip?

Posted In Smartphone reviews - By Techtiplib on Thursday, January 16th, 2014 With No Comments »

You’ve just scheduled a trip overseas for business or pleasure. During your trip, you can use a few different methods to contact your loved ones or co-workers back home. You can use a VoIP calling service to make phone calls over an Internet connection, or you can bring a cell phone and swap out the SIM card to make international calls.

Another option that people are finding more and more attractive is taking a satellite phone with them when they travel overseas. It’s the only communication option that can truly provide worldwide coverage, and it’s easy to find satellite phones to rent for a reasonable weekly or monthly rate. Each communication method has its advantages, so you should research each one to determine whether VoIP, cell phone or satphone is right for you.

Satphones, Cell Phones or VoIPMaking International VoIP Calls

VoIP stands for “Voice-Over-Internet Protocol,” and if you’ve used popular services like Skype or Vonage, then you’ve used VoIP. The bigger VoIP providers also offer mobile apps that allow you to make calls from your smartphone or tablet. You’ll need to sign up for an account with your favorite VoIP provider, and you’ll need to research whether the people that you want to call also need accounts with these providers.In some cases, calls between people that share providers, such as calls between Skype users, are free. Calls to landlines can be made for a fee, so you’ll want to verify international rates with any VoIP provider you choose.

VoIP can work well if you’ll be in a place that has widespread Internet access. The audio or video quality of your call will depend largely upon the quality of your connection, so you should make calls from places that have broadband connections. Additionally, consider whether you’ll have your computer or mobile device with you in an emergency situation. You don’t want to lug your computer around if you’re kayaking the Pacuare River in Costa Rica, for example; VoIP isn’t always practical for adventurers.

Taking Cell Phones Overseas

When you take your cell phone to your overseas destination, pull it out of your pocket at the airport and start calling your colleagues at home, you can expect to be slammed with high roaming charges. You can join your carrier’s international plan, but even these plans can still charge for roaming, and local calls are billed at international rates. For this reason, many travelers unlock their cell phones and swap SIM cards for cheap calls.

This solution requires you to either own a GSM-unlocked phone or pay someone—a repair specialist or online service—to unlock your phone. Then, you can purchase a SIM card with prepaid minutes that you can top up at convenience stores or other locations while you’re traveling. Some travelers purchase SIM cards for each country so that they have their own local phone number in every location. Others purchase international SIM cards, but these cards don’t work in every country, and incoming calls route to a single number instead of to a local number in your current location. Plus, if you aren’t comfortable taking your cell phone apart, then you may find swapping out SIM cards to be an intimidating experience.

Using Satphones

If you think of satphones as big, bulky receivers that are hard to carry around, then think again. Today’s satphones aren’t much larger than cell phones, and satellite providers can deliver a signal virtually anywhere in the world. Even better, you can send and receive text messages at no charge, which can provide a significant cost savings over cell phones. Since you’re using a satellite handset, you’re not tethered to your computer or to a broadband Internet connection.

When an international trip takes you to a remote location, then satellite phones are by far the best choice for communications. Also, if you’re traveling to an area of political unrest, then your satphone can get a signal when other devices aren’t working. Because rentals are so affordable, satphones are a great way to give yourself, your loved ones and your colleagues peace of mind. Of course, if you’re traveling for pleasure, then be sure not to share your satphone number with the boss. 

Author Bio:

Hobert Pruitt is the owner and CEO of Global Satellite Communications, a leading distributor of satellite phones for both purchase and rental. He loves writing about various calling devices and offers tips to find satellite phones to rent.

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