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 for many people and some small businesses.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 (see Footnote #1) abound; telephone companies often offer flat-rate unlimited calls; and some cellular companies also offer very low prices for long-distance 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, as well?
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, Hong Kong, or elsewhere, do you realize that you can do so for about $5 a month per number? Even better, that foreign number can ring directly to your existing office phone system. It can ring your regular business number or, if you already have a dedicated customer service phone number, you can configure your new number in England, Australia, Hong Kong, or elsewhere to forward calls to that existing customer service number.
With either personal calls or business calls, you do not need to leave a computer running and there is no need to purchase any new hardware. You don't even need to leave a computer running all the time.
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 and simply wait for your regular telephone to ring. All incoming calls made to your new number will then ring on any regular telephone you specify.
For instance, I added a London telephone number for use by readers of this newsletter. Anyone in the U.K. or elsewhere can dial my London number at +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 to callers for the trans-Atlantic call, and I do not need to be near my computer. Actually, I set it up to forward all London calls to my cell phone although I can specify any other telephone number I wish.
While I purchased a second phone number in London, I could do the same for a new number in another city in the U.S. and then tell my friends and relatives in that city of the new number to call me.
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