By Mr. G
May 1, 2009
I live in Brazil but travelled to Argentina back in January and got a nasty surprise a few weeks later when my cell phone bill (Vivo) arrived. I made mostly local calls within Argentina, but also a few were to Brazil. I always kept calls short, as I imagined they wouldnt be cheap, but I didnt expect to be paying US$1.50 a minute for local calls more than double that for calls to Brazil. As a result my monthly bill for January was over R$1000.
Now normally I use Skype when I want to make international calls from home, and I try to do the same when on the road but it is not always possible as it depends on having a broadband internet connection. As most of my travel is to small rural areas internet is not always available.
As a result of my January experience, I decided that on my next trip to Argentina, last month, I would do some research on a cheaper way to keep in touch.
I discovered a company called United World Telecom. I am sure there are others which offer a similar service, but I tried this one and was very happy with it.
Basically it works just like the cheap international phone cards that are commonly available in Europe and the U.S., but which are not so easy to find here in South America.
Instead of buying a phone card, you buy credits online and receive a PIN and local access phone number. You can register your own phone number so that you dont have to type in the PIN each time, but this is not such a big deal. After dialing the local access number, you type in the PIN and then the destination number (including international access code 00). In Argentina I was given the option of calling Buenos Aires or Cordoba.
You can use your cell phone to call but I avoided this as I didnt want to pay the roaming fee to my Brazilian service provider. I mostly used public phones (most of them allow you to do this, only one didnt) or hotel phones.
In Brazil there are local access numbers for Rio and São Paulo. Rates will depend on where you are calling to but on average the cost is around 2 to 3 cents a minute, which is almost as cheap as SkypeOut, but you have the added advantage of being able to call from any phone.
You can find out more about this service at the following link: http://www.uwtcallback.com/globalcallconnect_brazil.asp