Traveling With Voxox: Live From Southeast Asia (Part 2)

Posted by Tristan Barnum on Tue, Apr 21, 2009 @ 04:07 PM
My wife knows that I don’t particularly like sitting in a hotel room, and she takes some comfort in knowing that, while traveling, I am pretty much going to be offline for the majority of the day… or am I? Seems she forgot about one little Voxox feature that her family overseas uses to contact her for pennies a minute while she is in the USA called “CallBack.”

Voxox CallBack comes in two flavors:
Web CallBack is useful when you have an internet connection and you can log into Voxox or the Voxox web portal. First I enter the “from” phone number (where I’m calling from) and the “to” phone number (who I want to call). Then it calls me back on the first number, connects the second number, and voilá, I’m on a live call using Voxox, spending just a few pennies!

Next is SMS CallBack, which uses SMS text messages to initiate the call. It works in much the same way as Web CallBack. From any SMS-enabled phone (pretty much any mobile phone in the world), I send an SMS message to a special CallBack access phone number that all Voxox users can use. In the body of the text message I type the phone number of the person I want to call, then send the SMS, and within 10 to 20 seconds my phone rings, and the person I’m trying to reach is connected. Magic!

A call from Thailand to the USA costs me 2.2 cents per minute. Compare that to the $1.40 per minute that AT&T would charge me on their normal plan, or $1.20 (yup, a whole 20 cent discount) if I had their “International” add-on plan.

Now I have to add a few details for accuracy...

In order for CallBack to work effectively in Asia, especially SMS CallBack, I had to buy a SIM card from a prepaid wireless carrier in the country where I landed. AT&T service works here, but it is horribly expensive and not nearly as much fun! So instead, I dropped the equivalent of $15 to pick up a SIM card and $10 worth of calling credit.

Now, in most cases that $10 worth of calling credit would last you 20 minutes calling the USA (if you’re lucky), and then it’s back to the mini mart to pick up another recharge voucher. That process normally repeats for business travelers looking to spend 50 cents per minute rather than $1.40 per minute, over and over again during their trip.

But I broke the cycle — the only expense I will incur on my purchased SIM card is the cost of sending Voxox an SMS message. One SMS message per call, to be exact (about 10 cents per message).

So how can I receive calls of unlimited length from the Voxox CallBack service on this SIM card (in my own cell phone) without it eating into my prepaid credit?

In most countries outside the United States, mobile customers do not pay for inbound calls. So all I do is send an SMS from my phone with the prepaid SIM card in it (as I described above), and Voxox calls me right back on the same phone. (The cost of the inbound call to Thailand is only 1.2 cents per minute, charged to my Voxox account.) When I answer the phone, I hear it ringing to the number I am trying to call (in my case I am primarily calling the States, which costs only 1 cent per minute for that part of the call). The total cost on my local SIM card is 10 cents for the entire call no matter how long I stay on the line (the cost of sending the SMS text message), and only 2.2 cents per minute is billed to my Voxox account. It’d take an awful lot of calls for that to add up to anything that I’d lose sleep over!

So here I am using SMS CallBack on Voxox to make calls while out and about, anywhere that is within cell phone range, and I still got some grief about my contacts not having a way to reach me easily while I am away. Of course that was intentional, but it didn’t last long! Most of my contacts know that Voxox gives you a very cool way to allow your contacts to call you no matter where you are around the world. As soon as I got back to the hotel, I used the wi-fi voucher to connect to the Internet again, and opened Voxox to set the feature up. All I had to do was enter my new local SIM card phone number into the Voxox “Reach Me” settings and, when my contacts call my local San Diego Voxox number, they ring straight through to me, all the way on the other end of the world. The cost to them for dialing a local San Diego number is the same as it always is. My cost for having Voxox forward the call to me in Thailand is 1.2 cents per minute. You can’t beat that!

I hope this little anecdote sheds some light on how travelers can use Voxox. I’ve heard too many stories about people being forced to spend more than $1 per minute to call home while traveling. Getting a $500 or $1000 phone bill after coming back from a vacation or business trip just doesn’t need to happen! If you’re like me, you won’t be worrying about the expense of communications while traveling anymore, you’ll be worrying about your family wanting to check you into the loony farm when you come home! I’d better go now, I certainly don’t want to be writing my next blog entry: “Live from the Loony Bin…”

Tags: Voice Communication, Communication, Voxox