Still in the long run, it adds up like hell.
Now that I'm in Canada, I have the Tel3 local number on MY5 so I can make international calls without worrying about minutes at least. Have to worry about charges when calling my sis in Dallas now too though.
My sis however, just got Vonage as her landline so she can call me for free at home. However, that way I lose minutes and I'd rather just call *her* on her Vonage phone and pay for it via Tel3, than lose my minutes (which are just 300 per month)
The biggest problem is that when my sister calls dubai, she loses both minutes and gets the Tel3 charges. She can't use Vonage for Dubai at all, since the charges would be closer to 30 cents per minute.
My mom and dad use SmartVoIP on the PC (with a headset) to call my sis and I on our phones for free - however, we still lose minutes.
The only exception is if calls occur on weekends or after 9PM (unlimited minutes). Unfortunately, I can't call my sister after 9PM in Vancouver since by then, she's sleeping (11PM in Dallas).
Yes, the time difference kills us all.
Ultimately, with all the moving around over the years, my sis and I have no patience for headsets on the laptop. On the other hand my mom and dad have been using it for over a year now 'cause of SmartVoIP.
Since I've got an Android phone (HTC Dream) and my sis has an iPhone, I had her install Fring and we called each other via that app. It's a mobile phone VoIP program basically, that doesn't use the phone service but the wireless internet instead. So that fixes the issue of call charges between Canada and USA.
My dad doesn't have internet on his phone though (too expensive in Dubai) so I had my mom install an instant messenger (she ended up with Skype). After I signed up and added her as a buddy (via my laptop), I then finally entered my Skype login info on Fring.
She confirmed me as a contact tonight and then called to tell me to try it out. Gave her a ring on Fring and IT WAS BEAUTIFUL \o/ Super clear (as long as I didn't walk around a lot) and then she called back via Skype multiple times and my phone rang every time :D :D
The catch is that she needs to be on the computer when my sis and I call (we can always do a quicky call via Tel3 and have our parents go on the PC) - since dad and mom A) Do not keep the PC running all day and B) don't have computer speakers, just the headset.
Bottom Line: The great news is that if our parents are calling us via messanger program, our mobiles will ring and we can pick up - anytime, anywhere. And as always Fring is FREE on both sides and no minutes ever lost \o/
Th sad thing about VoIP these days is that while calling to some places might be free, others like Dubai, Australia, India (basically, all the ones we actually WANT to call) always cost money. I hope at some point in the next decade or so, we have a standard system in place for cheaper international calling.