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Cheap international calls: How to call abroad for less with VOIP

If you are looking to make cheap international calls, then read our useful guide to find out how.

Last updated: 10 November 2020

Cheap international calls: How to call abroad for less with VOIP
Looking to make international calls for cheap (or free)? 

VOIP is a new way that people are using to communicate with each other, allowing them to speak over the internet without using a phone line.

The great thing about VOIP is it is easy to use, and often free!

What is VOIP?

VOIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol and essentially provides the same kind of service you would get normally with your phone company but over the internet. A lot of people use VOIP in conjunction with traditional phone services. The reason for this is that VOIP generally comes at a lower cost than tariffs with normal phone companies.

How does VOIP work?

VOIP converts your voice into a digital signal which travels via the internet. If you call a normal phone number, the digital signal turns back into a telephone signal before it reaches its destination. VOIP is generally only used over WIFI, so you can make calls when you are connected in your own home or when you are in a WIFI hotspots in public areas such as café’s or train stations. You can use VOIP over phone data but you will need to check before you use is it - if you don’t have unlimited data then it will eat into your allowance.

What equipment do I need for VOIP?

The first thing you will need before you can start using VOIP is a decent broadband connection, if your connection is too slow then the call will drop or be of such bad quality as to make it unusable.

If you have a fibre optic broadband connection then you will be able to make calls over the internet without any issues. Generally, anyone with an ADSL connection should be fine though.

VOIP can be used from most devices which you can use to access the internet, namely, a computer or laptop, a special VOIP phone, or a smartphone.

What are the best free VOIP apps?

There are man high-quality free VOIP apps available now, with more appearing all the time. The best free VOIP apps will work across both your laptop or smartphone, and sometimes allow you to call landlines too:
  • Apple Facetime - Hugely popular amongst Apple users, Facetime allows users to make video calls but not audio calls. Facetime comes as standard with Apple phone, tablet, and computer products. But it is a closed system application, so you can only call people who have bought into the Apple eco-system.
  • Facebook Messenger - Facebook has added the ability to make voice and video calls to its popular messaging service. This is a hugely popular method of making VOIP calls, largely due to the popularity of the Facebook platform.
  • Google Duo - Duo offers high-quality video and voice calling for those who use it, but its use isn't very widespread. To use Duo you and the person you are calling will need to download the app, which doesn't always come as standard on Android mobile phones.
  • Skype - The best known platform for making VOIP calls. Not only can you make voice and video calls for free to other Skype users, but you can also call landline or mobile numbers directly (though this costs money, it is usually much cheaper than using your own landline). You even hand out your own personal Skype phone number as a way to be contacted.
  • WhatsApp - The very popular phone messaging app also allows its users to make video and voice calls for free. Useful as it integrates with your address book on your phone, automatically adding everyone who has a WhatsApp account automatically. The only downside is you can only call people who have the app already on their phone; no calling to laptops or landlines is currently available.

Who can I call with VOIP?

This depends on the VOIP service you are using. 

With an open system service like Skype you can call anyone you want, allowing you to make long distance or international calls with all the ease low cost of a local call. The receiver of the call doesn’t have to use VOIP and they won’t be able to notice any difference between that and a normal telephone call. Another great advantage is that the quality on long distance calls is usually a lot better than their traditional counterparts as they are made digitally so any extra noise made during transmission of voice signals is filtered out.

With closed system services like Facetime, WhatsApp, or Facebook, you can only call people who have that specific app installed. Thankfully, most of these services are already quite popular, or at least easy to install, so you should still be able to make free international calls quite easily.

What are the downsides to VOIP?

The quality of your call will be affected by the speed of your broadband line, so if you live in an area that doesn’t have access to high speed internet then you may want to employ a traditional phone line as well. Secondly it is more temperamental, since problems with internet connectivity are relatively common – something that is not typically a problem with phone lines. Thirdly, VOIP calling doesn’t come with all the services you would expect like voice mail, directory listings and the ability to call emergency numbers

If you are looking for a good internet connection to make VOIP calls then use our price comparison service to compare broadband deals now.
Fergus Cole

Author: Fergus Cole

Fergus is a journalist specialising in the personal finance, energy and broadband sectors. He also has a passion for travel and adventure so tries to make the most of this in any spare time he gets.

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