International Calling

International Calling

Some cellular providers offer international calling. Others do not or limit international calling to specific countries and/or plans. Historically, RW included calls to Canada but not international numbers in other countries across all its plans. With the exception of its “Everywhere You Go” plan, RW no longer does so.

If one’s service provider doesn’t offer international calling, one has the option of switching providers or augmenting their current provider’s cellular service with a third party option.

Third Party Options for International Communication

Fortunately, there are multiple third party options for communicating internationally at reasonable and, in some cases, no cost.

If those one wishes to communicate with are also using a smartphone, the most cost-effective (often free) option is use of an over the top (OTT) app. Google Meet, Signal, Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and, if other parties to the conversation are using Apple devices, FaceTime are all examples of over the top (OTT) apps that may be used for communication with anyone anywhere - so long as both parties to the conversation have smartphones, an Internet connection and are willing to use the same app. OTT apps bypass traditional telephone systems using Internet data (WiFi or cell). In the case of FaceTime, at least, one party to the conversation must be using an Apple device and must initiate the conversation, however, FaceTime conversations may include Android users via a mobile web browser.

Third Party Options for Calling International Numbers

If one needs to call actual international numbers, then a third party app capable of directly calling those numbers would be an appropriate choice. Google Voice is probably the best known choice. Skype and Viber, which unlike Google Voice can be used over the top as described in the previous paragraph, may also be used to directly call international numbers. None are free for calling international numbers but all are reasonably priced.

There are also a couple of lesser known services I like, Rebtel and Localphone. Why lesser known services? Unlike Google Voice, which requires one to use a separate phone number, Rebtel and Localphone allow for one’s cell phone number to be sent as Caller ID. To those you’re calling internationally, the call will appear to be coming from your cell phone. Rebtel and Localphone are generally price competitive with Google Voice, Skype and Viber. Like Rebtel and Localphone, Skype and Viber allow for use of one’s cell phone number as Caller ID.

Rebtel offers unlimited calling to Canada for $2/month and roughly 50 international destinations Including Canada for $10/month.

If one’s international calling habits are intermittent, using Localphone on a pay as you go basis might be a better choice.

Additional Notes

International calls placed through third party services will not be logged in your service provider’s online call history. They will be logged on your phone.

While many, if not most, US based phone plans allow calling to Canada, not all do, and when I last checked, most Canadian phone plans charge wildly variable rates to the US. I use an app that helps the situation. I’ve been using this app for more years than I can easily remember. The neat trick of this app is that it gives you a Canadian phone number that people in Canada can call you on without paying per minute to the US.

The app is called Fongo World, the regular Fongo app is just for Canadians. It is a VoIP line service. There is a one-time cost to buy the app, then other charges depend on the specifics of your situation. I pay $18/year to be able to send texts to Canadian numbers. Anyone can send texts to me. Texting outside of Canada costs more. MMS gets tricky.

For me, the cost is worth it for my Canadian friends to not have to worry about international costs. I can, and do, call out from the Canadian number to remind my friends that it is there. The number can expire if not used for a long time, unless you have one of the paid add-ons.

Since the app uses WiFi or cellular data, you can use it in Canada either on WiFi as usual, or if you have data roaming. I did this earlier in the year. At first, both my carriers failed on Canada roaming. I was able to make do with WiFi until Mint got their act together. I’ll find out next year if Republic ever fixed the problem.

My Canadian number is in Toronto, I get the odd junk call in Chinese, and it can be fun to mess with some junk callers by asking if they serve the United States.

I am aware this is rather a niche issue, but if you have friends in Canada that don’t have US-inclusive phone plans, this may help you.

Hi @mwgardiner,

Indeed, the telecom market in Canada is among the most customer hostile I’ve encountered. I’ve similarly used Canadian and UK numbers obtained from Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers, so that friends could call me without incurring international long distance charges on their end. This can be done using phones connected to an analog telephone adapter (ATA) such as RW’s former Extend Home adapter or SIP apps for smartphones like Groundwire or Zoiper. CSipSimple was my favorite SIP app for Android. It hasn’t been updated in years and consequently is no longer available at Google’s Play store though, in my experience, it still works with newer versions of Android.

Another app possibility is TextNow. TextNow is based in Canada and issues Canadian numbers (though I don’t know if they issue them to those in the U.S.). TextNow offers free ad based service via their app. The ads can be pretty annoying. Typically, TextNow charges $1 for its SIM but for the time being is offering SIMs for free:

"I tried accessing the old legacy RW Community a couple weeks ago mainly to thank @rolandh for the GREAT information provided there about using an RW phone while outside the USA. Was able to make calls and message just like at home while on WiFi, and surprisingly even message via Google Messages Chat using an Airalo data-only eSIM. Wonderful!

Eventually realizing that the old Community had been blown away, now delighted to stumble upon this revival. Even with @southpaw.

Would it be appropriate and helpful for me to detail my experience in Belgium and France here? I owe!

Thank you!

Hi @Clint

I’m so glad you found us!

Would it be appropriate and helpful for me to detail my experience in Belgium and France here?

Absolutely! Your personal experience would be as tremendous help to others reading this topic.

Hey @Clint,

We’d love for you to share your experience in Belgium and France. It might, however, be better to post that in this topic: International Travel.

Anyone who makes a lot of international calls may be interested to know that there are at at least two MVNO cell companies that offer international calling for no additional charge on at least some of their plans. Many cell companies already offer calling to Canada and/or Mexico, but these companies offer calling to many other countries as well. International calling may not be available on all of the plans, so you will still want to do a little research before signing up.

Tello Mobile offers free international calls to more than 60 countries. I recently ported my wife’s phone to Tello on their $10/month plan, which includes unlimited domestic calls and texts, 1 GB of cell data, and 1000 minutes of international calls.

Also, US Mobile has international calls included in many of their plans as well. I’m thinking about moving my wife’s phone over there because for the same price she can get twice the cell data. US Mobile lets you choose between 2 networks: Their “Warp 5G” network uses Verizon towers and their “GSM” network uses T-Mobile towers. Currently international calling is only available on their GSM network, and “coming soon” to their Warp 5G network. Also, their website says that international calls must originate from the United States, and while both of their networks offer wifi calling, I don’t know if it would work to use wifi to make an international call from outside the USA.