Posted by darren on Wednesday, December 09, 2009

I hate phones, but I love having them around. Especially when they're cheap.

I remember being young and having the short, curlicue cord on the phone in the kitchen wall, having to be limited to a ten or fifteen minute phone call because there was no call waiting, or dialing on a rotary phone and hating it because I had to dial nines and zeros (it took so long!).

I was a hold out on cell phones as much as possible. It's the cost I object to.

So when VOIP came to the masses and the promise of avoiding the phone company I hopped on that bandwagon faster than Sarah Palin went rogue.

I dumped our local phone service for Vonage. Despite the bad press and many negative reviews, I was very happy with Vonage. The calls were good quality (I admit, at the beginning, it may have been a little rough at times, but that could have been our DSL). The features were fantastic even though we never used most of them. Call forwarding was the best. Also, the ability to pick up the router, move 850 miles away, plug the router back in and continue to make calls was pretty cool.

Of course the best feature for someone who makes frequent calls to and from Mexico was the ability to have a Mexico City phone number. That way, friends and family from D.F. could make local calls and talk to us.

This agreement worked great until cell phone costs became an expensive necessity and I began looking at ways to cut expenses.

With the Mexico City number, taxes and various other calls, we were paying between $35-40 per month to Vonage. We were locked into a contract with T-mobile for about $110 per month with all services and taxes (three lines, 700 minutes, "My Faves," Unlimited texting). It was time to dump the (internet) land line.

But we needed to replace those calls to Mexico with something cost effective. Obviously, we couldn't do it at the exorbitant rates that T-mobile would charge.

Skype-out offered an obvious solution, but it's not always ideal to make a phone call, sitting at a computer. But Skype did offer a solution in tandem with "My Faves" from T-mobile.

First step: Buy a Skype country subscription for unlimited calls to Mexico (major cities) for six dollars a month. Second: Activate a Skype-to-Go number. This is an access number by which you can call and access your Skype account. Third step: Make that Skype-to-Go number one of the "Faves" for the cell phone.

The rest is simple. We just dial the Skype-to-Go number from our cell phone (unlimited because it's a 'fave'), and then call out to our Mexican friends and family through the voice menu (unlimited because it's part of the Skype monthly subscription).

For good measure, we then purchased a Mexico City phone number through Skype to receive messages. With the subscription, it's $34.50 per year with taxes.

So currently, with Skype, we pay about $10 per month instead of $35/month with Vonage.

I'm King of the World.