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Global Telecom/U.S. phone number in foreign residence country

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Question
Hi Tom,
I think and hope Im asking the right person, as I dont know much about the subject.  Were moving to Ecuador in the fall, and I would like to maintain a U.S. phone number when we do.  I think that Vonage provides such a service, but that is the only one I knew about.  In a search to see how I could do this most economically, I googled u.s. phone number anywhere in the world, and as you can guess I got millions of results, and now Im totally confused.  Without spending days into researching every one of them, how can I figure out which one is the best and most economical for me?  Thanks so much,
Katie

Answer
Katie,

I am not going to claim to know all of the options but I will tell you of a few that may be of interest to you. I have used all three in my day to day life so I have a valid basis for comparison. All of these require that you have high speed internet (as will any similar service simply due to the bandwidth required for voice quality)

ACN Digital Phone

The ACN Digital Phone provides you with a full featured service, a US number and if you wish, you can keep your current phone number and have it ported over to this service. You plug your own phone into the box and use it the way you do your current telephone service. It addition, it provides you with no charge long-distance to 60 or more countries. I use this daily for local and long distance and again, excellent service and excellent support. The prime factor in favour of this one is value - lower cost than most standard home phone services around here; rich set of features that make life easier for me; and the value incurred by the no-cost long distance make this my preferred choice. More details available here: http://tjsmith2.shopacnrep.com/digital/index.aspx

Magicjack (www.magicjack.com)

Magicjack has difference options from a unit that plugs in your USB port (you can plug your own phone into it), to a version that I believe plugs in the power outlet and provides phone service without a computer. You can get a US number - I am not sure if you can port your current number to this service. Ecuador does use a similar power system to Canada and the US, so whatever can safely plug into the outlets here I think should be able to safely plug into the outlets there. They do use the same AC plug types as we do, but also use European style power plugs. I have used the USB version of their service and was happy with the quality and the support. This is probably the lowest cost option, but does not provide you with the same feature set as ACN and provide no-cost long distance only to the US and Canada. Their website is http://www.magicjack.com.

Skype (www.skype.com)

Skype also provides service via internet using software that is downloaded onto your computer. Using a headset on your computer you can communicate freely (no charge) with anyone else who has an account. For additional subscription fees (options are available), you can get your own phone number located in the US. Cost is higher than magicjack.

There may be others that will also provide you with a US number, but I have not investigated or used those other services and therefore cannot comment on them, whether they are good or bad. The ones that I have listed above I feel comfortable in recommending. You mentioned Vonage - again though I am familiar with them, I have never used Vonage and therefore cannot comment on their service offering. http://www.skype.com

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to ask a follow-up question.

Regards,
Tom
http://tjstechnical.com

Global Telecom

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Tom Smith

Expertise

I can answer questions regarding the telecom networks which exist throughout the world as well as requirements and approvals required for equipment to be connected to the networks.

Experience

I have been involved in product approvals for over 25 years, working both for major manufacturers, design organizations, and two major testing laboratories. I have experience putting products into countries around the world, working with various approvals agencies, and have been involved in various standards development agencies (Product Safety, EMC and Telecom). I was the Senior Approvals Engineer at the first private telephone approvals laboratory in Canada, and have been involved in the development of Industry Standards for telephone and telephone products.

Organizations
- Senior Member of IEEE - Association of Professional Engineers, Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) - Professional Engineers of Ontario (PEO) - Terminal Attachment Program Advisory Committee (TAPAC) which is under the jurisdiction of Industry Canada (Department of the Gov't of Canada) - Canadian Standards Association - Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) - Product Safety Engineering Society - Former Approvals Liaison Engineer (ALE) for the British Approvals Board for Telecommunications (BABT) - Former ALE for AUSTEL (Australia) - Only ALE Appointment outside of Australia - Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society (RAPS) - Registered Consultant to the Hong Kong Telecommunication Authority

Publications
Suggested Design Techniques for Telephone Equipment Requiring Canadian Certification Presented at the International Conference on Consumer Electronics (ICCE), Chicago, Ill.(1985). Paper published in IEEE Transactions on Consumer Electronics.

Education/Credentials
B.A.SC (Electrical Engineering)

Awards and Honors
- Only Approvals Liaison Engineer (ALE) ever appointed by AUSTEL (AUSTEL is no longer the authority in Australia, and the ALE program was also replaced in 1997) - Former Deputy Approvals Liaison Engineer appointed by the British Approvals Board for Telecommunications (BABT) - Elevated to Senior Member by IEEE - CSA Plaque given for 20 years of Services in standards development

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