With Skype now being in significant use all around the world, and with several Skype competitors springing up every month, it seems a bit strange to be writing an article which is going to recommend getting a calling card.
But we do recommend you travel with a calling card.
There are lots of reasons for this, not the least of which being that sometimes, and in some places (especially in Southeast Asia and parts of India), the Internet is simply too slow to make calls.
I expected to have some difficulties with connection speeds in Cambodia and while on the island of Bali, in Indonesia. However, I was very surprised (in our connected world of 2011) when we were in Vietnam, and especially when we were in some parts of India, to discover that the Internet simply wasn’t fast enough to have a voice conversation on Skype.
One of the apartments we stayed at while were in Goa, India, was absolutely awesome. It cost about $50/night (which is a lot of money for one night in many parts of India), and had a WiMax connection. I don’t really know how WiMax works. What I do know is that the Internet would drop in and out, and according to speedtest.net, never really got faster than 20kbps on the upload side.
I’ve found out during our travels that anything lower than 30 kbps (upload or download) prevents Skype calls from being consistently good.
Please understand that I’m absolutely amazed by this technology. If I really stop to think about it, my voice speeds wirelessly through the air, to a modem somewhere, which connects it to a central provider, who might beam it to a satellite somewhere in space, and then my voice speeds rapidly back down to be reconfigured somewhere and sent along to the person who hears my voice about ½ second later on the other end.
That is nothing short of miraculous.
At the same time, it doesn’t always work, so having a backup in place in the form of a calling card is a good idea.
One company we have recommended for over 10 years now is Nobelcom.com. You can use the search box and the discount code below to get a 10% discount on their calling cards from now through November 1.