International Calling Codes: What They Are and How to Use Them

Telephone numbers began as simple designations that were one or two digits in length. Today, communication has reached a global scale that required the world to adapt and change how we contact others. This resulted in the creation of international calling codes.

These codes direct your call to specific countries which then allow you to enter the specific area code (if required) and ultimately the phone number of the person you are trying to reach. It may seem complicated, but with today’s simple and intuitive methods, it is far easier than ever before.

Read on as we discover modern ways to make international calls without draining your wallet. We’ll also discuss the structure and history of this crucial aspect of global communication.

How to Make International Calls For Less Cost

Using our tool can help connect you with the people you’re trying to reach, but the costs for such a call can be extremely high. Luckily there are a multitude of options available that cut these costs down and make them free in some cases.

The typical cost for international calls under a mainstream network like AT&T or T-Mobile is around $1.20 per minute of talk time. This can add up extremely quick, and other things like roaming charges will apply. If you choose to pay for their international plans, you’re still being charged up to $1.00 per minute in some cases.

New options have become available because of smartphones and Wi-Fi connections. This newer and far less expensive method of making phone calls is known as Voice over IP or VoIP for short. The concept here is simple: to provide means of communication over an Internet Protocol (IP) for both voice and video chat.

This has given rise to the term Internet Telephony which refers to any and all methods of communication over the public internet. This includes things like voice calls, fax messages, SMS, voice-messaging, and more.

These are offered as an alternative to the more mainstream public switched telephone network which includes telephones lines, fiber optic cables, cell networks, and the like. For international calls, VoIP is far less expensive.

It is not perfect however, the device you’re using must have a Wi-Fi or data connection, and can sometimes be a lower quality call overall.

There are also software and app-based services that allow you to make calls for free or for very low costs, but they also come with the caveat that the other person must also have the program.

Let us explore some of the modern options in this network of communication:

  1. Skype

This popular service was founded in 2003 and has over half a billion user accounts. It began as a means of chatting online via text, voice, or video anywhere you wanted on any computer around the world.

The service has since expanded to incorporate the ability for you to call physical phone lines and cell phones. You can pay for individual rates based on the country you’re calling to which are a fraction of the price you’re used to seeing.

You can also pay for unlimited calls in many different countries such as the United States, the UK, China, and others for as low as $14.00 per month. The service now functions as a separate app on most devices as well.

  1. Vonage

This is a popular VoIP service used by both individuals and businesses. It takes advantage of the high-speed broadband internet that most people and businesses already have, and uses it to make phone calls over the internet.

It can also allow you to receive both local and international calls while you’re away from home on a data connection like 3G or 4G, or a Wi-Fi connection. The plans you pay for are a flat rate that allows for unlimited calling both domestically and internationally.

  1. MagicJack

Similar to Vonage, MagicJack is a service that allows you to take advantage of your existing internet connection via a small adapter and use it both at home and on the go for international calls. The service works on your home phone, smartphone, or computer as well.

For international calling, there is credit available to pre-purchase time, or you can take advantage of low rates like 4 and 5 cents per minute.

  1. Keku

This is a unique service that works by taking your international contacts and providing you with a local number that the service reroutes internationally. By doing this, your phone carrier sees the call as a local ones and doesn’t charge you extra. You simply pay the rates offered by the Keku service.

It’s truly ingenious and it also offers the ability to type in the phone numbers (secondary country codes included) directly into the app for an easy way to call someone who isn’t in your contacts. It is compatible with both Android and iOS devices.

  1. Ooma

This is another VoIP service that provides the convenience of making calls via the internet and paying less as a result. This service differentiates itself by being completely free for domestic calls in the U.S.

The international rates are not very expensive either. The only real investment customers have to make is in the hardware which is a one-time cost. This hub is used to connect your devices and provide the service to you.

If you don’t have a computer, you won’t need one. The only required device is a phone of some sort. You can call other people on both landlines and cell phones, regardless of whether or not they own the service.

As you can see, there are numerous options available to you when it comes to making international calls. The rates put forth by mainstream companies aren’t the only choice you have for making calls across the globe. These options above represent a small fraction of the total choices available to you.

A Brief History of Calling Codes

In the early history of telecommunication, phone calls were handled by switchboard operators. These people used cords known as phone plugs to redirect calls to their proper destinations. To make a call, one person turn a crank which triggered a ringing at the central operating office.

A light would illuminate on the switchboard, letting the operator know which customer was making a call. That operator would then insert a phone plug into the jack and speak with the customer directly to find out who they were trying to call.

They would then use a patch cord to rewire the call to its destination. As time went on, these switchboards were replaced with computerized systems that could automatically redirect the call. This led to the use of area codes in the United States and Canada in 1947. The process started in large cities and became fully implemented in 1966.

In other parts of the world, various methods of dialing phone numbers are used. In some cases only a portion of the number must be dialed while in other cases it must be the whole thing. In the United States it was decided to increase the number of area codes rather than the standard 10-digit length of most phone numbers.

The country calling codes for other countries around the world were designated by the E.164 standard of the International Telecommunications Union. This standard provides a prefix to the telephone numbers for each major country. This number is preceded by the international call prefix which establishes what circuit is being used for an international call.

In all, there is a prefix which designates the telephone circuit, followed by one of the international calling codes, followed by the phone number for the individual or business which may or may not include an area code.

Keep in mind that when calling someone internationally that you should also take into account the time zone that they reside in, along with the appropriate methods of how to make an international call.

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