NOTE: This article contains no genealogy information, other than a minor reference to saving money when talking with your relatives in distant places. If you are looking for true genealogy articles, I suggest that you skip this one. However, this article does describe a high-tech method of saving money.
If you have family in another state or in another country, you can call them at relatively low rates using any of a number of methods. Low-cost VoIP providers abound; telephone companies often offer flat-rate unlimited calls; and some cellular companies also offer very low prices for calls. However, wouldn't it be nice to offer those relatives the opportunity to call you at no charge or for a very low charge, too?
For instance, if you live in Australia, wouldn't it be nice to offer your relatives in England the chance to call you for free or for very low toll charges? Of course, the calls do not need to be international. Perhaps you retired to Florida but would like to keep a Chicago phone number so that your children and grandchildren in that city can call you toll-free. All they do is call a Chicago phone number, and you answer the phone, regardless of where you are.
Likewise, if your employer would like to offer a toll-free or low cost customer service number for all customers in England, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, or elsewhere, do you realize that you can do so for about $6.25 a month per number? Even better, that foreign number can ring directly to your existing office phone system. You do not need to leave a computer running, and there is no need to purchase any new hardware.
You will need a computer and an Internet connection to set up the account and to specify a few parameters. Once that is done, you can turn the computer off. You can set an option to have all calls ring on any regular telephone you specify.
I recently added a London telephone number for use by readers of this newsletter. Anyone in the U.K. or elsewhere can dial my London number of +44 208 133 8002. When they do so, my regular telephone rings. I simply answer the phone in the same manner as for any other call. There is no charge for the trans-Atlantic call, and I do not need to be near my computer.
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