Think, for a minute, about how we used to make phone calls. Back before mobile phones you’d have to hunt out a phone box and hope that your pocket contains lots of change. If you didn’t have enough cash, your phone conversation would usually end up being fairly brief and you could find yourself trying to squeeze in everything as “the beeps” indicate that your money is about to run out.
Calling another country from a phone box was just unheard of. If you did it from your house then there’d be that same need to try and force out everything you want to say in a very quick conversation to try and keep the cost down. Calling abroad, back then, was almost futuristic. You could imaging your call getting bounced around satellites and you could hear a noticeable delay – perhaps even with a low-quality line for extra fun.
Now, in 2015, lots of mobile and home phone providers deliver their own international calling bundles and packages. It’s something I’ve been investigating lately after a relative decided to move over to Australia so you’ll no doubt see a few articles popping up over the coming days about this. In the smartphone world, Skype and Google Hangouts are always the first solutions to this sort of problem. WhatsApp and FaceTime are other suggestions, but if you just want to call someone abroad cheaply, from any old phone, you have to usually put some more thought into it.
Planet Numbers is one particular service I’ve spotted, and will let the less techy people (such as my Nan) call Australia without gadgets or complicated PIN dialling systems. You just create an account, call a UK phone number, and then you can bash in the Australian number to get connected. You can even create a speed-dial, making it super-easy for even the most tech-phobic relatives to dial loved ones for a small amount. With this system you can save up to 38p per minute. Calls to landlines are just 2p per minutes and mobiles are 5p, which is just bonkers. To have my Nan calling Australia for a whole hour and it only costs £1.20, That’s really rather good, and there’s no smartphone, no app and no complications.