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Long Distance calls to Iraq

I have a son in Iraq and was wondering what is the most economical way to communicate with my son. I have looked at my home phone plan as well as my wireless plan and they are still expensive. Do you use calling cards? If so, which are the better cards? Of course skype is probably the cheapest way to go but internet coverage is not always ideal. What say you?

I should add that my son will probably purchase a cell phone in Iraq so he will have a static number.
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skype can also be set up to call landlines and cell phones (depending on country). That feature costs, but it's still very inexpensive.

edit: said feature came in handy during the recent C2 summit... I got a skype plan for $2.95/month that allows unlimited calls to US and Canada landlines and cell phones vs. the $0.20 / minute my cell phone company wanted to charge me. Other countries may have differnet pricing, but worth looking into. I think also discounts exist for buying more than 1 month at a time.
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If your son has access to high speed internet, and his own laptop you can buy two Vonage kits, one router type and one USB type and set them up in the US. Then send the USB kit to him.
At that point, he can call you VOIP for free (except the approx. 30 dollars a month Vonage access Fee)
If he's not rear echelon, then this isn't a good solution.


"To Wiki or Not To Wiki, That's The Question".
+1 on skype.

I use it here in Australia to call in Canada. If you are doing a skype to skype connection, then it's free. Skype to landline, it's not that expensive.


"To Wiki or Not To Wiki, That's The Question".
Would MSN video chat work? Its free and all you'd need is a webcam, most of them come with built-in audio.

MSN would work as long as you are not going too far. The way I understood it versus Skype. MSN will go from computer 1 to Microsoft servers, to computer 2.

Skype will do a peer-to-peer. Computer 1 to computer 2 connection.
I've been using iChat w/video with my daughter this summer. She's in Japan and I'm in the US. With both of us using wireless, the connection is OK--audio is usually fine but video sometimes fragments. If one or both of us connect via Ethernet, it improves greatly. Even with a less than ideal connection, it's been fun. She was able to call us from friends' houses or from coffee shops with wireless--it was nice to get video from places like that. Some form of IM is also necessary--we've been using AOL IM. Cost is free.

We've also used Skype--both computer to phone and computer to computer. In both cases, the connection is excellent. As was already mentioned, computer to phone carries a small change. Computer to computer is free--you just both have to be registered. I used Skype for a couple of work related calls when traveling overseas myself and it worked fine. In fact, one of my colleagues asked me when I got home--the connection was so clear he thought that I was calling from home.

If you end up buying a cell phone for your son, Skype will work out nicely for long calls from home. If he has a solid internet connection somewhere, everything works out whether he has a phone or not. I'm sorry that I don't know anything about calling cards--that would give him a lot more flexibility if he wants to call CONUS.

Hope this helps--best of luck to your son.
There are several options. Instant Messaging is an option if all else fails, and if you have GTalk (Google) there is a voice feature which can call another Google account. Ohterwise Skype would work much the same way.

If you want something more VOIP, check out magicjack.This is basically the same concept as the Vonage trick mentioned above, but maybe cheaper. What you will have to do is set up the device on your PC with all US information and get it working properly right here in the US, then ship it over to iraq and he can plug it right into his PC and use it just as if he was calling inside of the US. Think of it as "travel home phone #". You have a US based number, but you can bring it with you wherever you go and still be able to use the same #.
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