Addicted to novelty since 2001

Help Solve My International Phone Quandary

We’re moving to Malta. We’re also, obviously, moving our business to Malta. I’ve got some baffling phone issues to sort out, and telephony really isn’t my strength. Here’s the lay of the land:

We have three phone numbers we’d like to retain, Capulet’s landline plus our two cell phone numbers (currently with Fido). Ideally we’d like to use these numbers in Malta, but that’s probably not viable from a price perspective.

Alternately, it’d be acceptable if we parked these numbers, and had all voicemails forwarded to our email accounts. I investigated if this was possible on Fido’s site, and came up empty.

So that’s the incoming calls side. Any suggestions?

On the outgoing side, Motorola wants to give me a phone to review. I’m thinking I might take them up on it, and then get a mobile account from a Maltese provider.

Of course, rates on international calls will still be pretty pricey, so we might go with a combination of SkypeOut and the mobile, or SkypeOut, a Maltese landline and the mobile.

Does anybody have a genius plan that will simplify our Maltese telephone woes?

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that, around the house in Malta, we’ll want to have some kind of reliable, half-decent speaker phone setup. In my experience, Skype over our Mac’s speakers/microphone totally blows.

19 Responses to “Help Solve My International Phone Quandary”

  1. Matt

    Actually, many of the VoIP plans come with a box that you plug into your computer that you can then use wherever you are. You could actually then transfer your number to your VoIP plan and then just move with it all. That would take care of one of your numbers. You could potentially do that with others, as well. But it mmight be too complex. Plus, your number would still be local, and the costs for telephoning from Malta would be next to nothing.

  2. Darren

    Matt: Would I need to get a VoIP phone for use around the house then, as well?

  3. Katie

    Darren, Remember that Europe uses tri-band phones, instead of dual-band phones. I don’t know what Canada uses, but I had to get another phone when I came to Malta. I recommend using Skype or another VoIP service as much as you can.

    Also, SkypeOut calls to Maltese mobile phones are pretty pricey. So don’t set-up call-forwarding from Skype. Not worth it.

  4. Horst Mann (Opa)

    Well Darren, I think the answer is skype.
    You can have up to 10 phone numbers. For example a Vancouver number which function like a land line for all your friends in Vancouver, they can call you without a computer and they can reach you without paying long distance (because it is a local call for them).
    You can have a Malta number for your new friends and customers in Malta.
    You can have a number in USA. This all works with call forwarding and voice mail.
    In addition, you use skype via your computer to talk and see your friends (and me) for free.
    You can use skype phones plugged into your computer (USB) or directly connected to your Internet router.
    Here is more informations :
    http://www.skype.com/intl/en/helloagain.html

    Horst

  5. Gail

    VoIP is how I’ve managed to keep my Vancouver number since 1998 even though I don’t live there anymore. I travel with the Primus gateway and it’s hooked up to my router. I use wi-fi and even while multiple computers are accessing the network the voice quality is pretty good. All you need is a broadband connection.

    Having that Vancouver phone number while living in Pennsylvania and now Toronto is great — my friends and family use it all the time.

  6. Gail

    I forgot to mention I use a Siemans cordless phone with the VoIP, and even with wi-fi and cordless the line still sounds pretty good.

  7. Gregg

    Hort Mann: While Skype does allow up to 10 numbers, it only has numbers available for 14 countries. Neither Malta nor Canada are on the list, so it will not work for Darren.

    Darren – I went to a forum I frequent consisting of frequent vacationers and ex-pats living in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. I was looking for the experiences of a member know as IceBreaka who is a resident of Vancouver that moved down to Playa for several months after he convinced his boss to let him do his phone based job from home. He was using VOIP with the phone number being a Vancovuer number, but when I re-read his story, it wasn’t any of the major companies such as Vonage.

    As I understand Vonage, it would work well for you as you can have Vancouver phone numbers, and then take the calls anywhere in the world either by using a headset plugged into a computer and their software and/or using their box that plugs into a LAN connection and then has a phone jack on the other end into which you plug a standard phone. I even believe that when I looked at it not too long ago, they now have phone number portability, ie. you can keep your current number(s). The one caution I would have, though, is something that I spotted in the threads from the above forums… the ex-pat owner of the forum warned IceBreaka before he came that the local telephone/cable/internet company blocks the IP addresses of all known VOIP companies, as it is competing with them. It didn’t affect IceBreaka since it was non-standard VOIP he was using (sounded like one set up for his company and used even if you were working out of Vancouver). Since Malta is a small nation, I could foresee that it might just be one company there that provides all these services… is there some that is there now that could let you know if Vonage is working fine as of today and hasn’t been blocked? Perhaps there is a board similar to the Playa board for Malta?

  8. Duane

    Voip is the way to go, either using a computer (softphone) via something like Vonage or a ATA device (which you plug a normal phone into, but it uses VOIP under the hood).

    In terms of a speakerphone, you can get some devices that plug into the USB port that have built in echo cancellation (these still require a computer). Or you can get something like a Polycom Star phone, but that’s a little pricier.

  9. darren

    Wow, ask and I shall receive. Thanks everybody.

    It sounds like Vonage might be a good option, as that will let me retain my phone numbers. On the other hand, if Malta is blocking Vonage’s IP addresses, that’d suck.

  10. Joe Drumgoole

    Darren,

    We use an Irish VOIP provider called Glantel (Glantel.com). They provide a pretty good service and offer cheap international calls and they are pretty decent guys to deal with. If you have decent broadband then VOIP is probably the right answer whether you use Glantel or another provider.

    They also provide pretty nice polycom handsets.

    Joe.

  11. will

    i have a cunning plan!

    go and become a rebtel customer at http://www.rebtel.com. it’s free and takes less than a minute to join.

    create rebtel numbers for your friends; rebtel will send them to their phone and your phone by SMS.

    when your friends call your rebtel number from their mobiles, the call will disappear into the internet, and complete on any one of 5 phones you select.

    so if it’s a maltese mobile, then there’s nothing to pay.

    in advance of a bigger solution (like rebtel’s roaming product) it’s a great way of avoiding getting hosed by the mobile operators on international calling.

    any problems, drop me a mail!

  12. Mahesh Mankikar

    Dear Sir,

    Hi Mahesh Here My One Pen friend Stay in MALTA G.C.I have no any Cont. No Or Her addres so please find out her Cont.She Work as a Policewoman in Malta
    Name: LOUISE CATANIA

    Thanks & Regards

    Mahesh

  13. Paul

    Hi Darren,
    I am a Maltese living in Canada and have been looking extensively into this kind of issue as I travel to Malta regularly.

    I am using a DIY Voip solution, not based on a canned solution like Vonage, but a basic setup with added providers, phone numbers etc. as necessary.

    Skype uses a closed protocol and not very adaptable to what you want to do.

    My solution is based on using real phones with normal dialling patterns that my computer illiterate 83 yr old mother can use, not computers and headsets. Although not free, call charges are minimal, or as close to free as possible.

    If you want to explore this further, contact me.

  14. Troy's Telephony Triumph

    […] we left for Malta, I wrote about my difficulties getting our international telephony strategy sorted out. We never really did get it 100% right. […]

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