You can update your Facebook status, upload photos on Multiply albums, and write 140 characters to sum up your day on Twitter, but there’s no substitute for the sound of your loved one’s voice. This is true now as it was in the days of old telephone commercials: there is no replacing your loved one’s unique sigh or wacky laughter.
The good news is: you can have it! Along with a burst of information online, the internet has also provided OFW parents and OFW or migrant family members with a way to make international calls without the strain on your budget using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). VoIP changes your voice into digital packets that can easily be sent using an internet connection.
Skype has the largest share of VoIP traffic in North America. It works as simply as Yahoo Messenger. Just download the program, install it to your computer and add other Skype users. Skype allows you to chat, transfer files, or turn on the video camera to see and hear each other.
Skype-to-Skype calls are free and the connection is usually reliable. Skype can also call phones or mobiles or send text messages for a minimal charge. Prepaid minutes are $0.21 per minute. To call US or Canada on their monthly plan costs about $2.99 per month.
Unlike Skype, Magic Jack comes with a matchbox-sized hardware with two ends—a USB connector and a phone jack. The USB connector hooks up to your computer to install a software program, while the phone jack allows you to plug in a regular telephone to use while making phone calls.
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The Magic Jack costs about $40 and comes with a year of free service. Each additional year of services costs an additional $20. Magic Jack lets you choose a US number to call the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. If you wish to call other countries, then users should also be using Magic Jack or another online number with a US area code.
Vonage also gives us a new model for VoIP connectivity. Unlike Skype and Magic Jack, computers don’t need to be turned on. Vonage comes only with hardware that connects to your DSL connection and phone line.
For $25.99 a month, Vonage allows you to call unlimited local and long distance to the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and 60 other countries. Vonage works well if you’re a heavy user with many friends and family abroad.