Phone Service Abroad

Summer vacation time is rapidly approaching and if you need phone service while abroad (and who doesn’t anymore), this article lays out some of your options.  Unless you don’t care what you spend, it’s important to plan ahead.

One option not mentioned in this article is purchasing a pay-as-you-go phone once you arrive overseas.  You can use that phone for local calls.  When you have WIFi service you can use your existing smartphone for texting, email and making FaceTime or Skype calls.  It’s important to remember to turn cellular service off on your smartphone to prevent accidental usage.

I also suggest using a WiFi only texting app like WhatsApp.  WhatsApp works on most platforms unlike iMessage.  iMessage communicates with non-iPhone users by using cellular data.  This is not an option you want to use when abroad.

Goodbye Good Old Phone System

In 2003, 90% of American’s had an analog landline phone.  These phones communicated using a twisted pair of copper wire that required no external  power source to operate.  Today, only 26% of homes use this type of landline.  Most phone service now is digital over the internet, cable system or wireless cellular network.  The FCC  has basically declare that the old system is dead and will be phased out.

This decision was all but inevitable given the trends.  However, there is a big downside.  The phone system is highly reliant on the internet.  If the internet goes down, the phones won’t work.  And, all of it is reliant on the power grid.  I certainly remember times in the past when we’ve lost power but rarely did the phones stop working.  Now your phones will work as long as your back batteries last.

On the plus side, this will require reliable internet service be brought to every nook and cranny of the country.