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Old 17-09-2019, 14:55   #1
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Phone connectivity when traveling international

Does anyone have any experience with a find me / follow me “like” service behind an iridium go! I am about to head back down to Mexico. Then the plan is to jump to the Marquesas in the spring. I want to keep my US phone number, but not pay too much for the service. Then control the calls in/out which I will pay by the minute. Has anyone done anything like google Fi behind iridium? Any experience/advice is welcome.
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Old 17-09-2019, 15:50   #2
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Re: Phone connectivity when traveling international

There is a tracking service available through Iridium Go if you get your airtime through PredictWind. Maybe the same service is available with other airtime providers as well, but I don't know. When set up it provides a webpage that shows your track history. That may provide the "find me" functionality you are looking for.

I'd be very careful trying to use any conventional app through Iridium internet connectivity. Bandwidth is extremely limited, so most apps will fail miserably. Only apps designed specifically to work with satellite bandwidth are likely to work.
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Old 17-09-2019, 16:01   #3
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Re: Phone connectivity when traveling international

Doug

Thanks for the reply. I guess I aged myself. I was interested in the old telco services - not lat/Lon. One would call a phone number, and the service would “pass through” the connection to a different telephone. I was thinking I might be able to set up a Fi account and have voicemail always pick up. Then I could filter important enough calls at my end to call back. But, I too, am very worried about the data. I don’t think it will work. I was hoping someone has tried this. It would be nice if the visual voicemail could send out text alert (for which I have unlimited SMS). Just wondering. My service is through BlueCosmo. I’m just setting it up now. Don’t know too much about it, but I, too, want the daily GRIB.
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Old 17-09-2019, 16:13   #4
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Re: Phone connectivity when traveling international

Gotcha.

I just put a message on my regular cell phone voice mail to tell people that my "sat phone" (Iridium Go) is for me to call them, not for them to call me and if they want to get in touch with me they should email and I"ll call them back. Friends and family I give my Iridium phone number but tell them to text if they need quick communication, not call. Again I can call them back if desired.
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Old 17-09-2019, 23:36   #5
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Re: Phone connectivity when traveling international

Yes, and I can explain your options tomorrow when I can get in front of my computer again. I am also building a service specifically for boaters for this as well. There are a couple options that will work depending on your needs.
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Old 18-09-2019, 04:32   #6
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Re: Phone connectivity when traveling international

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Originally Posted by kchristofferson View Post
Doug

Thanks for the reply. I guess I aged myself. I was interested in the old telco services - not lat/Lon. One would call a phone number, and the service would “pass through” the connection to a different telephone. I was thinking I might be able to set up a Fi account and have voicemail always pick up. Then I could filter important enough calls at my end to call back. But, I too, am very worried about the data. I don’t think it will work. I was hoping someone has tried this. It would be nice if the visual voicemail could send out text alert (for which I have unlimited SMS). Just wondering. My service is through BlueCosmo. I’m just setting it up now. Don’t know too much about it, but I, too, want the daily GRIB.
Ive used Skype to accomplish this for years. I have a USA Skype number. You can set up the number to be automatically transfered to another number. I set it up to be transfered to my local cell number (wherever that may be). As I change countries I just reconfigure the call forwarding to use the new number.

When you dont have a local number, you can disable call forwarding and let it roll to voice mail or answer via Skype.

This allows me to give out a single phone number and not be constantly changing contact number as we move about.
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Old 18-09-2019, 04:51   #7
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Re: Phone connectivity when traveling international

Quote:
Originally Posted by kchristofferson View Post
Does anyone have any experience with a find me / follow me “like” service behind an iridium go! I am about to head back down to Mexico. Then the plan is to jump to the Marquesas in the spring. I want to keep my US phone number, but not pay too much for the service. Then control the calls in/out which I will pay by the minute. Has anyone done anything like google Fi behind iridium? Any experience/advice is welcome.

While we wait for Sea-Tech I can share some second-hand experience. The relatively attractive international roaming services like Google-Fi and T-Mobile are intended for conventional international travelers, not nomads. They generally require substantial time on US networks. They'll work for a few months and then you'll get a notice that your account will be suspended on some date.



Iridium does have a US number plan (about $10/month). I don't know if you can port an existing number to Iridium. Note you still have your Iridium number, there is just an interoperable US number as well. It works for texts and voice. Global Marine Net has the US number built in at no extra costs in their high end voice/data plans.



For your communication plan with people don't lose sight of caller ID.
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Old 18-09-2019, 05:15   #8
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Re: Phone connectivity when traveling international

Following with interest.

We use Verizion. We have a USA/Canada/Maexico unlimited plan, which IS limited to 500MB/day, voice unlimited.

Outside the basic service area they have a $10/day charge IF they have a plan where you are going. They have a very extensive list of covered places. You only get charged for the days you use. So if you save all your calls for one day it’s not bad. If you have to hang around waiting for a call back it gets expensive fast.
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Old 18-09-2019, 08:09   #9
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Re: Phone connectivity when traveling international

Thanks for all the replies. I, too, would like to know what Sea-Tech has. I’m going to do a little Skype research today. I guess I’m an old dog and a little reticent to learn new tricks. I want to keep and use the cellular number that I have had since the US started offering cellular services. This is good and bad - everyone knows how to contact me this way. But I would blow my cruising budget if I routed all that traffic through iridium. There are several Nigerian princes who need my help and call now and again. I would get angry taking those calls.

Funny, I did an offshore purchase of SV Emma and ran away to Mexico for a couple of years to save on taxes. I got myself a t-mobile account with everything unlimited at a reasonable price. Your right - they cut off my data after a year.
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Old 18-09-2019, 08:20   #10
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Re: Phone connectivity when traveling international

Have straight up Google fi. Excellent. Sale now. Think ends soon.
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Old 18-09-2019, 08:56   #11
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Re: Phone connectivity when traveling international

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Originally Posted by kchristofferson View Post
Thanks for all the replies. I, too, would like to know what Sea-Tech has. I’m going to do a little Skype research today. I guess I’m an old dog and a little reticent to learn new tricks. I want to keep and use the cellular number that I have had since the US started offering cellular services. This is good and bad - everyone knows how to contact me this way. But I would blow my cruising budget if I routed all that traffic through iridium. There are several Nigerian princes who need my help and call now and again. I would get angry taking those calls.

Funny, I did an offshore purchase of SV Emma and ran away to Mexico for a couple of years to save on taxes. I got myself a t-mobile account with everything unlimited at a reasonable price. Your right - they cut off my data after a year.
Have you looked at the Solis Skyroam? We have it and it works very well. It's basically a carrier agnostic hotspot. Since our phones have wifi calling in them, we use that through the Skyroam.
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Old 18-09-2019, 08:59   #12
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Re: Phone connectivity when traveling international

Quote:
Originally Posted by kchristofferson View Post
Does anyone have any experience with a find me / follow me “like” service behind an iridium go! I am about to head back down to Mexico. Then the plan is to jump to the Marquesas in the spring. I want to keep my US phone number, but not pay too much for the service. Then control the calls in/out which I will pay by the minute. Has anyone done anything like google Fi behind iridium? Any experience/advice is welcome.
I have used Magic Jack for years in Bahamas.
Same service and # as when I’m home stateside
$10/yr
Free calls to states and Canada as well as incoming calls from same.
Also text messages
Downside is you have to have a good internet connection or calls will drop/or static.
I often teather off of a Bahamian cell phone for connection. Data is cheaper than by the minute phone calls.
Iridium will likely not give you a good enough connection except for text.
Good luck
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Old 18-09-2019, 09:00   #13
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Re: Phone connectivity when traveling international

Okay, Now that I have my morning coffee I can focus on this for a bit...

There are a few options depending on how sofisticated you want to be.. There are also some limits/caveats with some of the services like Google Voice that make certain things more difficult..

Option 1: (which is how I started out).

I had a T-Mobile phone with Seattle, WA number and International roaming (T-Mobile One Plus). I connected a free Google Voice account to my T-Mobile number to handle voicemail and transcribe the voicemails which were emailed to my satellite email and SMS'd to my cell phone. For incoming calls I could choose to take the call or let it go to voicemail and get the text transcription. I hardly ever listened to a voicemail. And then I could call back, text back, email back however I felt was appropriate. When out of range I would get the transcribed voicemails in my satellite email and could just reply via email if I had their email address.

I also set up a Skype account with a paid Skype-In number (also Seattle) and a paid unlimited outbound calling subscription. In Google Voice I set it up to forward calls to both my T-Mobile phone and my Skype-In number. Incoming calls would ring on the phone AND the Skype app and I could choose to answer either. Skype has a setting to configure outbound caller ID to match my cell phone so I could call out on Skype and it looked like I was calling from my mobile. Skype worked nearly flawlessly on the 256kbps slowed data speed I got from T-Mobile in other countries (LTE is only in Can, US, Mex).

Google Voice is free, but it can only forward calls to US +1 numbers. So if you want to forward to an Iridium phone you need to add a +1 number option to your sat phone (typically $10/mo addon).

Optionally you can set up forwarding in Skype to do the same, and Skype can forward to international numbers (but NOT Iridium +8816, so you still need the Iridium +1 option). Skype just uses your skype subscription or a credit that you set up to pay for the calls. Outbound Skype calls are about $0.02/min.

The Skype-In + Outbound calling subscription was about $12/month total.

I ran this way for about a year before switching our phones to Google Fi. Google Fi takes over your Google Voice account and some of the features are different..

Option 2:

Port Number to Google Voice... You can port your existing cell phone number to Google Voice and then set up multi-forward in Google Voice, as well as Voicemail transcription. When you do this your existing cell phone will be cancelled of course, but then you can get local SIMs, etc in other countries.

Since Google Voice can't forward to International numbers, you would need to do a couple of things.

Google Voice could forward to an Iridium +1 number AND a Skype-In Number. Then Skype could be configured to ring for 15 seconds or so, then forward to an International cell number that you could adjust as you travel and get new SIM cards. You'd pay for your local SIM card airtime, and you'd pay for Skype to call the International SIM card number if you don't answer via the Skype App before it forwards, but overall not a ton of cost.

If you called someone from your International SIM card, the caller ID would show that International number... But you could make unlimited calls to North America with a $6/mo subscription in Skype and have your old number (the one ported to Google Voice) show up on caller ID.

Option 3: (do some more advanced stuff)

Sea-Tech itself uses a service I am building for cruisers who are running businesses while travelling. It involves an internet based VOIP service. Sea-Tech's primary business number (the one on our website, business cards, ec) is actually a number I obtained through Skype (my original Skype-In number) and then ported to my current VOIP service. For incoming calls to that number, the service routes the call to a full Interactive voice response menu that changes based on time of day. Menu options for sales, activations, accounting, support, etc. Depending on the choices the calls get routed to various forwarded phone numbers. Some are forwarded directly to a manufacturers support line, others forwarded to my cell phone. Some are important enough to ring on all staff cell phones (first to answer gets the call). I have ring groups set up that can forward to a sat phone, skype number, and cell phone so that no matter where I am a call can come through and I have a choice as to how to answer it. At night the calls go to voicemail and the voicemail audio file is emailed to me, and I have a second service that transcribes the audio and sends me the text of it as well.

Incoming calls are no charge, but I do pay for the outgoing forwarded calls, which add up to just a couple of pennies per minute. The nice thing about this is it's essentially a full PBX system in the cloud and has tons of features. Call queues, call rerouting, forwarding, ringing to multiple phones, etc, and it's a VOIP service so I can also use any old VOIP client on a smartphone, or a fancy VOIP desk phone and connect directly in to the system via the Internet.

My plan as far as business goes is to offer this whole package as a managed service to entrepeneurs who need to be reachable while travelling, but there is nothing stopping someone from just building their own using the same set of services on the Internet.

Hopefully that helps.. Feel free to ask questions, especially if I made anything a bit confusing.
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Old 18-09-2019, 09:16   #14
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Re: Phone connectivity when traveling international

Just to clarify a few things..

Advantages of Google Voice:
You can attach it to a live cell phone to intercept calls without having to port a number
You can alternatively port your old number to it and keep that number alive
Google voice can record and transcribe voicemail messages and forward the transcription
Google Voice can forward calls to multiple external numbers simultaneously
It's free

Disadvantages of Google Voice
It can only forward calls to +1 USA numbers
It doesn't really help you with outbound calling

Advantages of Skype
It's an Internet calling service with excellent audio quality
It can forward calls to international numbers (there is a cost)
It can record voicemails
You can call out with the Skype App
You can take the calls directly with the Skype App
If you have free cell data (like T-Mobile International roaming), it's way cheaper to call with Skype than with the cell phone ($0.02/minute vs $0.20/minute)

Disadvantages of Skype
Skype can only forward to one number
Skype can forward to a new number OR to voicemail, but not both.
Skype does not transcribe voicemails or email them
Skype costs money to use with real phone numbers (inbound or outbound)

But, you can combine the two in unique ways to get best of both.. If you need more advanced call routing, rings groups, hunt groups, etc then you have to look at a more robust service.
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Old 18-09-2019, 09:23   #15
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Re: Phone connectivity when traveling international

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Originally Posted by hpeer View Post
We use Verizion. We have a USA/Canada/Maexico unlimited plan, which IS limited to 500MB/day, voice unlimited.

All the international plans are a moving target. There are lots that work okay if you are a US/Bahamas/Canada/Mexico cruiser especially if you get back to the US for a few weeks a couple of times each year.



Quote:
Originally Posted by kchristofferson View Post
Thanks for all the replies. I, too, would like to know what Sea-Tech has. I’m going to do a little Skype research today. I guess I’m an old dog and a little reticent to learn new tricks. I want to keep and use the cellular number that I have had since the US started offering cellular services. This is good and bad - everyone knows how to contact me this way. But I would blow my cruising budget if I routed all that traffic through iridium. There are several Nigerian princes who need my help and call now and again. I would get angry taking those calls.

If you are looking at Skype, consider Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger as well. For most of the world Whatsapp gets much heavier use. In all likelihood you'll end up with more than one tool. Whatsapp to interact with local services and something else back to the US.


My customers ask me what the "best" VOIP tool is all the time. *sigh* My answer is the same: "It doesn't matter. Just use whatever your grandchildren are using. They are the ones you want to talk to and they won't change."


Quote:
Originally Posted by kchristofferson View Post
Funny, I did an offshore purchase of SV Emma and ran away to Mexico for a couple of years to save on taxes. I got myself a t-mobile account with everything unlimited at a reasonable price. Your right - they cut off my data after a year.

Yep. It's in the fine print of the agreement. I know one boat that mails SIM cards back and forth to get time in the US. Seems like a lot of work to me. Still I don't want to give up my phone numbers either. My mobile has been the same since about 1986 (car phone the size of a lasagna pan) and my GV number is almost ten years old.
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