By Señior Tech from the March 2013 Edition
One of the challenges of living in Mexico is communicating with friends and family back home. My wife Señiora Notsotechie (she wanted to keep her maiden name) and I have a Canadian phone line that does just that.
You may say, I have Skype, and it is free. That is true, but it is a pain to keep your computer on to receive calls.
Your friends and relatives can call you (when they use Skype from their computers). You may purchase credits to make calls to landlines and cellphones in Canada and the US.
Skype also offers a Skype Out option (at this time there are no Canadian phone numbers that people can call you, they will have to contact you through their computer). If you make a lot of calls consider a yearly prepaid account for $60.00. Depending on the plan you select, you will be able to make unlimited calls to either the US or Canada. Or for a yearly fee of $144.00, you can make unlimited calls worldwide (go to www.skype.com for a complete list of countries). The Skype Internet phone should be a consideration if you elect to subscribe. A Skype Internet phone is available for $100.00 and connects to the Internet. You can call out without the use of a computer; incoming calls are made to your Skype user name.
Another option is Magic Jack. The Magic Jack Plus costs US $69.95 plus shipping ($79.95 in Canada). I did a Google search on them and found a lot of billing complaints from people who purchased direct from Magic Jack. The product is available at Radio Shack and The Source. They also have a product called Magic Jack which is $30.00 cheaper. I would not consider the Magic Jack as it requires your computer to be on to make or receive calls; the Magic Jack Plus only requires a wired Internet connection. Once your Magic Jack Plus Is plugged in to both power and the Internet you can connect any phone and start making calls. Your friends and family need only to call your Canadian or US number to contact you. The purchase price includes the first year of unlimited calling to both Canada and the US. The annual subscription cost is $29.95 for Canada and $19.95 for the US. For $19.99 they offer to port your existing landline number.
Vonage is available in both Canada and the US for $24.99/ month for unlimited calling to the US and Canada. You can port your existing number or get a new local number. For an additional $5.00 a month you get unlimited worldwide calling to landlines (go to www.vonage.com for a complete country listing). As with the Magic Jack Plus plug into the power, Internet, and phone to make calls.
In Canada, Primus www.primus.ca offers a similar plan to Vonage called Talkbroadband.
All the services above are VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) services and will require a wired Internet connection. In order to get a good quality, get the fastest internet speed you can afford. If your Internet connection is slow, call quality will suffer, especially when someone else in the family is surfing the net while a call is in progress.
The options mentioned all have limitations, the low cost options are more complicated, the higher cost options are easier to use. All plans offer features that the telephone companies charge extra for. For instance, I get an email message when a voicemail is left. I am able to listen to the voicemail message through the email or from the telephone.
While we are in Mexico, our friends call our home line at no cost and we can talk as often and as long as we want.
Señior Tech resides in Manzanillo during winter and in Canada for summer and fall.