If you’re someone who frequently travels overseas, particularly for business, you are probably familiar with the complications and expenses of your mobile service provider’s international roaming and data charges. While you might be able to disconnect when you’re taking a relaxing vacation, these days when you’re traveling overseas for business, having access to a reliable communication network is essential. Being disconnected during the middle of a business call is simply unacceptable. The problem is, most mobile service providers realize this so they hike up their fees for international plans. However, don’t think you don’t have other options. You don’t have to bust your budget to stay in touch when you’re abroad; the internet offers a couple of very affordable and efficient alternatives.
What are Google Voice and Skype?
Google Voice and Skype are both VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone services. As such, they send and receive calls via the internet between people who are on the same platform or between the platform and a landline or mobile phone.
When you sign up for a Google Voice number, you will be able to make and receive calls from within the Gmail platform. This service is also integrated with Google Hangouts. You can also send text messages from within Gmail, and it won’t cost anything. Here’s a rundown of Google
Video chat: this is available only with Google’s plug-in installation called Voice and Video Chat.
Free international calling: this service is not included.
Unlimited domestic calls: this service is available.
Single platform integrated voice, video and IM: this is not available in a single platform; you have to add Google’s Voice and Video Chat plug-in.
- Free SMS: only domestic SMS is free.
- Free voicemail: available.
- Free voicemail transcription: available.
- Free call recording: this is available for incoming but not outgoing calls.
- Free call blocking: this is available.
- Free individual phone number: this is available.
- Requires a phone plan: You do need a phone plan to use Google voice, though you may use Google Voice and Video Chat for free if you are connected to the internet.
- Free group video chat: This is available but only on Google+ hangouts.
- Place 911emergency calls: this is not available.
- The corporate version of this service: this is not available.
Skype is one of the most widely used VoIP platforms in the world, and it has been widely popular for almost a decade. Though there were other means of chatting and communicating over the internet before Skype, this platform really changed global communication for the better.
Skype has made it easy and affordable to communicate with others all over the world with the easiest access. It’s simple to use and offers a user-friendly and cost-effective way to stay in touch with family, friends, and colleagues, wherever you are in the world and whenever you are traveling overseas. You can use Skype on your Mac, PC, iPhones and Android devices. You can connect with other Skype users via the internet for free. If you are calling a landline or a mobile number there are varying fees depending on the location you are calling.
- Video chat: Skype allows video conferencing.
- Free international calling: only direct calls from one Skype user to another are free.
- Unlimited domestic calls: you may make domestic calls for free from one Skype user to another, but you will have to pay for a Skype subscription to make calls to landlines and mobile phones. The rate will be charged per minute and will depend on the country you are calling.
- Single platform integrated voice, video and IM: this is available.
- Free SMS: you must purchase credits to send text messages. The rate will vary depending on the country you are sending to.
- Free Voicemail: available.
- Free Voicemail transcription: this will cost you 25 cents/ message.
- Free call recording: this is not available.
- Free call blocking: available.
- Free individual phone number: in the U.S. you may purchase a number for a three-month period for the price of $18. The Skype Premium plan also allows users a 33% discount for three months on their numbers and a 50% discount for a year.
- Requires a phone plan: this is not necessary because you can connect via the internet.
- Free group video chat: this is not available. In order to have group video chats, you must subscribe to Skype Premium. The cost will vary depending on your country.
- Place 911 emergency calls: this is not available.
- The corporate version of this service: to obtain this you must purchase a subscription to Skype for Business. The cost will vary depending on the size of your company. This version features group calling, less expensive calls, contact with non-Skype customers and, collaborative functions.
International Call Forwarding
Google Voice offers free call forwarding using (Public Switched Telephone Network [PSTN] integration). Skype users have the option of call forwarding with certain paid subscriptions. However, if you wish to take advantage of international call forwarding, you will need to purchase a virtual international number from a third party and have the calls routed to your Google Voice or Skype number.
What are Virtual International Numbers?
A virtual phone number is not like any other phone number. This type of number is most often used to forward calls to businesses. As such, a virtual number is more of a redirect route which passes through a service, rather than an actual phone number. Virtual international numbers allow you to connect with overseas customers without having to change your main contact number. It allows customers from all over the world to contact you via a local toll-free number, providing you with a virtual presence all over the world. This method is advantageous because it facilitates global communication and gives overseas customers confidence in your company and your brand.
No matter where in the world you are trying to reach out to, international forwarding will allow you to offer a toll-free number for clients to reach you, eliminating their need to use confusing international dialing codes and pay expensive international calling fees. Not only will you build your global presence, but you will also seem like a local company in many different countries.