VOIP

Just to let everyone know if you don't already that Vonage works great in Nicaragua. It's like $25 per month for unlimited incoming and outgoing calls and you can set your telephone # anywhere in the US or Canada (not positive about Canada). We are using it with a 128/56 connection and is crystal clear. If you need any additional info please feel free to drop me a line at ingrampc @ accs.net

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Compare to iConnectHere

I just checked the Vonage website to be sure before opening my big mouth to sound off.

I have been using iConnectHere for about a year now, and couldn't be happier. While Skype indeed works very well, as does MSN Messenger and Yahoo IM voice chats, all of their drawbacks are that they are computer to computer ... and you never know when someone will be online or not. We started out way back when with applications like DialPad and Net2Phone, back when they were still free. You could call telephones by using a headset on your computer. However, the quality was terrible, with delays in packets, and often people would hang up on you rather than work with the echos and delays.

Once Net2Phone started improving the quality, they also started charging a fee per minute for calls. It was worth it, because we had a dealer in Managua (Bello Horizonte) who sold time in $5, $10, $25 or $50 increments. We bought the card with the ID and password, went home, plugged it into the dialer, and were up for cheap calls to the USA and Canada. We did this right up until about a year ago. However, it still required us to use a headset or a special device called a YapPhone, which connected to the computer via USB port.

Most importantly, it didn't solve the problem of us getting calls from family and friends in the USA ... 'cause they didn't want to pay a lot to call Nicaragua, and wouldn't chat very long if they did. Then someone pointed us to iConnectHere, and life suddenly got better. We started out with just their dialer program, to see how well the system worked. After working out the glitches between our PC and their interface dialer (they have a real time chat help service, and they are friendly and helpful), we made calls and discovered it to be as good as Net2Phone and cheaper.

So, we took the plunge and signed up for their broadband program. We picked California for the area code of the number we would be assigned, since my daughter lives there. Eventually, the phone adapter came. We configured it, plugged a plain 'ole telephone into it, and were in business. We've never been happier. 99% of the time, the phone quality is the same as regular telephone.

We pay $15 a month for the iCallNorthAmerica plan, which gives us 800 minutes of calling time to any phone in the USA and Canada. We also get unlimited incoming calls for free on the assigned number. Since so many cell phones have nationwide long distance, it's just a local call to ring that number in California. Evenings and weekends, they usually have "free" minutes, so they can call us and talk as long as they want for free.

Since it is a real telephone number in California, we get the occasional telemarketing call. Once it was to sign up for the San Jose newspaper ... and the guy swore I was lying when I told him we were in Managua, Nicaragua and couldn't subscribe!

I can't begin to tell you how great this service has been. It is also very helpful when you are dealing with businesses, etc. in the USA that want a US telephone number. They are much more likely to return a phone call now that if they had to call international.

I notice that Vonage is pretty similar in scope. Their basic plan offers only 500 minutes for $15, but for $25, you can have unlimited calls ... a good deal if you call over 800 minutes a month (what $15 will buy you with iConnectHere).

Another point. This basic monthly fee covers only the telephone number for the free incoming calls, and the stipulated amount of minutes for calls to the USA and Canada only. If you wish to call another country, you have to add funds to an account, and the price of the call "out of plan" is subtracted from the account, much like Net2Phone currently operates.

I think iConnectHere is slightly cheaper than Vonage on calls to other countries, but I couldn't verify for every country. I just picked the United Kingdom, since my 2 daugthers are in college in London. For calls to a landline in London proper (207, 208 prefixes), iConnectHere charges 2 cents a minute, while Vonage charges 4 cents a minute.

If you have broadband internet in your home in Nicaragua, this is the only way to go to stay connected to family and friends. If Vonage is as good as iConnectHere, you won't be sorry. Whichever company you choose, it's going to be a great connectivity tool.

But it's a US or Canadian Number?

Vonage in Canada tell me to take my Linksys box and phone with me and my Canadian number will call and receive in Nicaragua but they don't actually have Nicaraguan exchanges. So the account has to be paid in Canada or the US.

Credit Cards?

Miskito Alan asks "if you can not give a Visa, MasterCard, or American Express credit card number to pay the account and the billing could be charged to the credit card monthly and automatically?"

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I'm sure you could.

I only meant that I don't believe Vonage offer Nicaragua service. The hardware is linked to a US, Canada or Mexico telephone exchange. Once you have the hardware and telephone number, the account does not care where you plug the phone in, as long as you have internet access - highspeed.

Vonage in Puerto Cabezas

"Farmer John" has one of the old Vonage phones and buys the card from the local internet supplier and we pay U$.06/minute for calls to USA (America). This number is an "800" number in Florida on our telephone.

We tried to buy the latest version about a year ago and the Vonage did not want to sell to us because we lived in Nicaragua. Then, I called back with one of my daughter's addresses in Mississippi and one of my credit cards that is billed to that address and the Vonage people still did not want to sell to me and we both just gave up and forgot the whole deal; but, we still use the old Vonage telephone. Who knows?

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Tariffs

The issue is the tariffs. Vonage is only licensed to offer the service in certain countries--US, Mexico and Canada, I think. So, you need to "tell them" you are in the US. That's all.

That said, if you have your computer on when you want to make calls, Skype is generally the better option. First, computer-to-computer calls are free. In addition, the technology is better for working over connections with longer delays.

If you need to talk to a "regular phone" you can buy Skype minutes. They are priced similar to Vonage calls.

"fyl" - I Told Vonage

that I was in Mississippi and my credit card that I gave the people is billed to that same address in Mississippi.

I think that "Farmer John" and "Miskito Alan" were, by then, already on their "blacklist" of "crazy Gringos" in Nicaragua just like "Byron" & "Arnoldo" and whoever else on the "USA (America) visa blacklist".

Well, we are still using the old Vonage anyway!

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Vonage in Canada

I'm using Vonage in Canada and it is terrific hear. I'm soooo pleased that you have it there. It'll be a great link to the family and business.

Well, sorta, ...

Vonage will work decent over any connection that is maybe 64k or faster that doesn't have lots of variability in the packet delays. The worst will be over a VSAT link where the uplink is being shared with others.

Skype (http://www.skype.com) manages to work better over virtually all links. It does require a computer (Mac, Windoze or Linux) but it totally free to a computer on the other end as cheap if it is a connection from a computer to a standard phone.

Net to phone

Last year during my visit I was impressed with the costs of calls made in internet cafes using net to phone. The costs for calls to the states were minimal (a few cents a minute). Not sure if this is available all over Nica, but it was available in Grenada.

Sorry for my Mistake! - OPPS....

OPPS

The 2 or 3 posts that I posted on this topic are incorrect.

Where I said "Vonage" - Please substitute "Net 2" phone.

I think that I've been reading too much "Vonage" advertising.

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Yup, it is

Expect to pay C$2 to C$2.50 per minute.