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Old 4th August 2008, 15:33   #16
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skype to skype is the best option and it's clear get a good web cam
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Old 4th August 2008, 16:43   #17
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I used skype. Its free since there was a comp at home. Voice quality for crystal clear. For phone calls I used reliance India call. Very good voice quality, and never had downtime.
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Old 4th August 2008, 18:20   #18
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I am surprised nobody mentioned yahoo. i use yahoo to do video conferencing with my parents. all they need to know if how to log on to yahoo.

@scaryskulls, if you have a high speed intrnet, you get voip box which connects to it and on the others ide it has a phone jack. let's say vonage has a voip phone service, you will need to buy the box and subscription from them, connect to your own internet connectin, and then use a regular phone set to talk. so after installation it's not much different from a user's perspective. I am ssuming that's what guys are talking about. not sure which providers are there in india.

I had it from sunrocket and it went bankrupt, since then I have not had any landline.
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Old 4th August 2008, 22:06   #19
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Yahoo messenger is very clear too.
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Old 5th August 2008, 00:05   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Kapasi View Post
In case any of us are away from the computer, we use skype to call either landline or mobile. It is cheaper to call a landline, you end up paying something like 2 eurocents a minute.
Mobile are a bit pricier though.

I've never tried any other calling program, always used skype and am very satisfied with it.
Sam is right. Skype works perfectly well. In 98% of the cases we have a very clear connection, sometimes (in those 2% left lol) we hear a bit background noise or the call drops.

Some small correction on the prices Sam gave you. This applies to him as he is calling me in Germany. The prices vary, it always depends which country you are calling, no matter where in the world you are. It is a bit more expensive for me to call him. It is currently 7.9 Euro cents per minute to call India - same for mobile and landline. Btw, you can easily charge your skype account for calls on phones via credit card. Whenever you need it, so quite convenient. And there is no limitation as to until when you need to have used that credit.

You can look it up on: International long distance calls at cheap rates

However, browse through their website, they offer many more features (incl. subscriptions for more services etc.).
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Old 5th August 2008, 00:20   #21
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If you insist on calling up on the telephone, a whole host of calling card products are available. Several of them are shady VOIP operators who resell calls through various cheap routes to terminate in India.

You can call for as low as 5c a minute. Most of these cards are available in neighbourhood grocery stores - look for the Indian/Paki stores and you will find at least 2 dozen calling cards from various service providers. They dont cost much, so you can keep experimenting.

If you want to go the full legal route, Reliance sells India Calling cards and VSNL Home Call is also an excellent option which reverse charges the calls to the connection in India.

There are also dodgy (for us regular telecom operators - it shouldnt matter to you) SMS and Internet based Call Back operators. You send an SMS with your destination number and they initiate a call to the destination and to you from their end. These are technically illegal in most countries, but using these services is not an offence as you are only a user of virtual telecom services.
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Old 5th August 2008, 09:19   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steeroid View Post
Several of them are shady VOIP operators who resell calls through various cheap routes to terminate in India.

You can call for as low as 5c a minute. Most of these cards are available in neighbourhood grocery stores - look for the Indian/Paki stores and you will find at least 2 dozen calling cards from various service providers.
Hunting for such cards used to be my pastime in 90s.

These are usually expensive. It might seem that is costs 5c per minute to call India / Pak but cost comes to 8 - 9c due to hidden charges.

E.g. "connection fees" per call and their meter starts from the time connection is done and bell starts ringing(instead of the time when someone actually picks up the phone). And minimum charge might be for 3 - 5 minutes, so a 7 minutes call will mean charges for 10 minutes.

Reliance is "shadiest" of these all (for govt) but is quite transparent for end users. It costs 8 or 9 c per minute I guess.
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Old 6th August 2008, 12:28   #23
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Thanks a lot guys! All this was surely helpful.
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Old 6th August 2008, 13:06   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NetfreakBombay View Post
Hunting for such cards used to be my pastime in 90s.

These are usually expensive. It might seem that is costs 5c per minute to call India / Pak but cost comes to 8 - 9c due to hidden charges.
Call charges have dropped drastically since the '90s - they actually do cost about 5c a minute nowadays.
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Old 6th August 2008, 13:22   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steeroid View Post
Call charges have dropped drastically since the '90s - they actually do cost about 5c a minute nowadays.
https://www.relianceindiacall.com/us/index.aspx

Close to 8c for Reliance (they own nearly all of end to end infrastructure).

Look at one of the cards for shady charges:

India Talk phone card & India Talk calling card offer cheapest rates for international & domestic calls - Save your long distance phone bills with India Talk prepaid phone card service by: DP

It talks about of 2.9c rates for India.

I just picked whatever card that came up in Google search. Others might have better (or worse) fine print.

But the fine print says:
Phone Card Terms


Quote:
1) A WEEKLY MAINTENANCE FEE RANGING BETWEEN .49 AND .79.
2) A HANG-UP FEE RANGING BETWEEN .05 AND $1 (So that they can claim "No connection fee")
3) MINUTES AND/OR SECONDS ARE ROUNDED TO MULTIPLE MINUTE INCREMENTS
4) TOLL FREE ACCESS NUMBERS ARE SUBJECT TO AN ADDITIONAL FEE OF UP TO 4 CENTS PER MINUTE.
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Old 6th August 2008, 14:40   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScarySkulls View Post
Can you guys please elaborate more on the "Local calling number", "VoIP handset" and other related things? I don't have much clue as regards those. Who all offer these services here?
Before I start, here is the disclaimer:

Quote:
I am in no way affiliated to any of the companies / services that I am mentioning, and though have used it and liked it, I am not a regular user.

I am also not entirely sure about the legalities, AFAIK VoIP has been legalized in our country - and combining an international network with a local PSTN is the only illegality that I know off (routing a call that comes to an international number to a local number via VoIP).
Here is what you have to do:

Buy any USB VoIP adapter - I heard there are deals for as low as < $25, some also with some kind of calling plans. An Example: USB VOIP Phone Adapter, Support SIP, Skype (I am not sure about how good it is - I just googled this one out!!!)

This adapter need to be installed in a PC at your residence over here in India. It will also have some kind of a software accompanying it, which needs to be started / run to use this adapter (I guess it auto-starts after installing). The adapter has a RJ11 port to connect a normal telephone. This is the installation part.

Next step is buying a VoIP number. The cheapest I got in a 2-second search is this: Basic Residential VoIP Home Phone Service: Vonage – A Better Way to Phone for Less. You would get a US phone number, and will have some kind of free calling offers to (free minutes, low tariff for long distance, etc) - this not important, any cheap service will do, all we need is an active VoIP based US phone number. Once this is done, the VoIP software installed in the computer need to mapped with the Vonage service (username / password need to be given for it to login and be active) - and Voila, you have a US number at home here in India!

You will then be getting any mobile / landline in the US based on your requirements, and call this VoIP number as a local call whenever you want to call home - if you have unlimited local calling in your number, you can call home and talk on and on - only expense will be the VoIP subscription ($14.99 in my example) and your mobile / landline costs.

The benefit of using this is - after the installation part, using this is as straight forward as answering a normal PSTN phone. Ofcourse the computer must be on. Alternatively, this device or this device can be plugged into a broadband modem - no need to have a computer turned on, just have the modem turned on!

All said, if you are sure that your people back home in India would be comfortable with MSN / Skype / Yahoo messenger and video / audio chat, nothing like it - it is free, and the quality is good too. The VoIP method is more simple (once installation is completed), though you have to shell out some $$$

Hope this is helpful. Anyone in the US / Canada who uses VoIP will be able to provide more inputs on this.

(Whew! What a long post!!)

Mods: If anything i have posted seemed illegal or againt forum rules, please delete this post.

Last edited by ph03n!x : 6th August 2008 at 14:48.
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Old 6th August 2008, 18:03   #27
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What I use:
Skype for the places where there's a PC on the other end. My parents have a skype phone. Its like a cordless which once configured can make and receive calls using the skype network without switching on the PC. No video though. You do get phones that double as skype clients too so you have one unit for al your calls.

Otherwise, for landlines, I prefer Reliance as it has a online billing/review option.... and most importantly, is limited like a calling card (Important if you are married and your wife likes to talk )
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