Calling Indians from Japan – Cards & other options
Before the post… The best option to make any international call is: Skype-to-Skype which is absolutely free (when your employer pays for your net connection!). But since my parents are devoid of computer access, I explored other options & below is my experience.
I am in Japan now for a 3-month holiday… OK! Do not feel jealous! Am here for work!
When I tried to call my parents, my first & known option was Skype-to-phone option (and the residence here luckily had a skype phone which was bought by a good-soul & left here itself when he returned, to help his colleagues!)
When I was going through Skype’s plans, I was a bit frustrated at first that Skype do not accept payments through direct netbanking. A friend helped me to buy credit through his credit card. It was ¥1500 with ¥12 (Rs.4.75) / min (Rs.590 / 125 minutes) with rounding of to 1 minute. The customer-winning feature of skype should clearly be its 1-minute FREE call to even mobile. (I am thinking to register 120 free ids & correspondingly 120 gmail ids to gain 2 hours!- They are right when they claimed only Indians invented the missed call!). I believe this because even Tpad has the same set of skype-features.(Their PC-to-Mobile to India is cheaper than skype ¥7(Rs.2.75) / min). But the missing feature is “where is my free trial call to trust you?“.
Once I bought the skype credit through a credit card, it was immediately activated. Except that the reception in India is somewhat slow, the voice clarity is excellent when called through skype phone. Now as I am left only with a balance of ¥350, I am looking for other cheaper options.
1. I noticed that the Golden Lotus prepaid cards are very cheap – works out to ¥ 5(or Rs.2) /min to India! But here is the catch – it has a maintanence fee attached – $1 (¥106 or Rs. 42) / week. So every week you are losing 20 minutes! I think this should be the best option for men who got engaged & been in Japan during their legalized love period! Rs.2.50 / min to India should be a great gift for them to talk sweet nothings with their prospective spouse (if the girl cannot access Internet easily) and happily spend the 180 minutes (Should be only 3 hours in their perspective!) within a week & getting ready for the next one in the next week!
2. Mt. Fuji calling cards – Got this hat tip from Gowrishankar, a friend whom I met in Kuala Lumpur airport. (Sorry that no link for the cards is available!) These are got from Indian shops. – 7 hrs and 33 min per card (¥1500) with 4 min extra cut for every call. It will make your ISD call from land line phone to India as a local call [¥10 (Rs.4)/3 min]! But wait! The catch is the rate is applicable to calls made from Japan landline phone which I think is hard to find (atleast for me!)
3. Tpad PC-to-Phone option – Just like skype, But I haven’t tried this and have not got any personal experience. So no other details. They also have a price comparison chart, which says its even cheaper then skype with other not-so-useful-for-India features.
I have not explored any options so far! If any one come to this blog though google (Or any loyal readers for this blog(?), if you exists!) can help!
Update on 29 July 2008: TPad contacted me & gave me a free credit of $3. Also read that!
Update on 28th August 2008: HalwaCity Vijay’s related blog post – VOIP – சகாய விலையில் இந்தியாவிற்கு தொலைப்பேச, is an excellent article in this regard. Your home need not have a computer at all. All they need is a broad band connection (Rs. 250 p.m) which offers 20 hours of talk time for one month & For Rs. 500 they have unlimited night talk time! Go read that article. Thanks Vijay!