|This morning, as white puffy clouds rolled in over the hills.|
|Soon, the sky became a little darker as the white puffy clouds began to dissipate.|
Almost a year ago, before leaving the US, we did an analysis to determine the cost of keeping our cell phone service with Verizon Wireless while we traveled the world. With both of our contracts expired, we weren’t obligated to continue on.
|Only minutes later, the clouds rapidly wafted into the hills.|
First, we determined our calling costs in many of the countries in which we’d reside. Secondly, we determined the data costs based on our usage while in the US. In other words, what would it cost us monthly to continue making calls and using data freely as we’d done in the past?
|The clouds are so close to us. It’s heavenly!|
|We’ve never seen clouds from this vantage point!|
The estimated total for both of our smartphones would be $2300 a month, not something we could or would be willing to pay. Also, figuring the cost without making calls on the phone, the data aspect alone would be over $1000 a month. If we considerably cut our data use, most likely we couldn’t get below $500 a month. Old habits die hard. With no data plan, we’d have no alternative to breaking the habit of using our phones as computers.
|As much as it looks like smoke, it is puffy clouds.|
The basic monthly fees for service for both phones were $167 a month including taxes and fees. What was the point? If roaming calls were an additional $2.89 a minute on average, using Skype for free was a logical alternative.
The question remains, will everyone we want to speak with, be willing to download Skype taking the minimal amount of time to learn how to use it? Not necessarily, much to our disappointment.
|The clouds dissipate quickly. Tom stood by with the camera in hand getting these shots as they progressed while I was busy in the kitchen. I’m impressed!|
As we’ve discovered over the years, many users only check email and Facebook, occasionally using search engines on their computers at home and at work, with little interest in learning to use the zillions of other applications available online at little or no cost.
Unfortunately, this prevents us from the opportunity to speak with many family members and friends who simply aren’t comfortable using Skype. We wish we could convince them otherwise enabling us to freely call any of our family and friends with the same ease we experienced back in the states using our cell phones.
|The rain, although short-lived, was torrential! While the sun was still shining Tom said, “I smell rain!” I shrugged and dismissed his comment. Within 20 minutes, the sun was hidden behind the clouds while the rains came pouring down and these puffy clouds appeared.|
While in Boveglio, Tuscany the Skype connection is quite clear with or without video. We’re more than willing to talk without video if the call receiver prefers not to use their camera. With the huge time differences, one may hesitate to be seen online in their pj’s or otherwise, understandably so.
Also, we can send and receive Skype calls on our smartphones when we’re connected to the Internet via our MiFi device or the wireless connection in the house. The call receiver may do the same using their current cell provider’s data connection with the Skype app loaded for free. Most new smartphones have Skype pre-installed when they purchase a new phone.
Thus, a cell to cell call may be made using Skype on both ends without incurring any cost, unless the receiver is using a data plan that charges per megabyte on their cell phone.
In this case, they can make the call using their cell phone from their home, using their home’s wireless connection by a simple setting on their phone before making the call. It’s easy, requiring only a few steps, and is equally easy to set it back to the Internet data service provided by their carrier after completing the Skype call.
In the past several days, we’ve had to make a few personal or business-related calls. How do we do this with no phone? Simple. We search online for the toll-free number provided by the business and make the call on Skype with no charges on our end.
How do we make a local call? Again, using Skype. If no toll-free number is available, for example, when we recently inquired to a local pharmacy for a product, we used Skype‘s “for fee” service. We’d deposited $10 into our Skype account for these exact purposes last January with still $8.76 remaining as shown below in this photo.
|Our remaining Skype balance after making several local calls using Skype. Long-distance calls from country to country are more expensive, considerably less than roaming cell phone calls.|
The local fees for local calls in most countries using Skype are a little over $.026 per minute. That same call to the US would be $2.89 per minute without the use of a toll-free number. (Also, we still can make an emergency call from our cell phones or Skype at no charge).
Why do we continue to carry cell phones if we have no service? As explained above, for making Skype calls, emergency calls, navigational services when we use our MiFi as an adjunct, and most often, reading books on our Kindle app installed on our phones.
FYI: When downloading new books, we connect our phones to the wireless connection in the house, sync the new books, and disconnect. The e-books are permanently stored in the app on our phones which doesn’t require a connection for us to read at our leisure. With no TVs in the bedroom, a bit of reading time seems to aid us both in lulling us to sleep.
Why don’t we leave the house’s wireless connection all the time? Each location is different depending on the strength of the wireless signal. In this house, keeping the phones online diminishes the strength of the signal to our laptops. When downloading books, we disconnect our laptops for a few minutes in order to sync the books, turning it back on when completed.
I know we’ve addressed these cell phone and Skype concerns in past posts. However, as time marches on, we learn the nuances of the systems we currently have in place while analyzing that which we may need in the future as technology continues to flourish before our eyes.
Much of which we now use with aplomb, will become obsolete in the near future. In the interim, we both make a concerted effort to be aware of the changes as they reach the marketplace, hoping to create greater ease of use and features as we move along in our worldwide travels.