Telephone/Internet

How do i get landline telephone service, and how much will it cost?
If you live in a dormitory, telephone services are often provided for you. If you live off campus and want your own landline telephone service, call the business office of the local telephone company. (Information on how to order phone service and what telephone number to call is listed in the front section of any telephone book.) The local telephone company will provide only the connection for service—you will have to provide your own telephone. Good quality telephones which usually have built-in answering machines can be purchased at a variety of stores.

For landlines. besides the cost of the telephone itself, you will be required to pay an installation fee, a monthly fee for using the service, and additional fees for long-distance or international calls. Local calls are included in the monthly fee. Also, you may be required to pay a deposit, which will be refunded to you after a certain length
of time if you pay your bills on time, or when you cancel your service.

If you do not pay your telephone bill, your service will be disconnected, or cut off, until you pay. You may then be required to pay an additional deposit and installation fee to reconnect your telephone.

How do cell phones work in the U.S.? What are the costs?
Almost all students want to have a cell phone while in the States, even if here for only a few months. A cell phone often replaces the need for a landline telephone. There are a variety of cell phone options. In many countries, texting is free and cell phone calls are cheap, but in the U.S.calls can be expensive and texting may require an additional charge. It is important for you to understand how these systems work; if you don't, you would find yourself with a bill much larger than you would have imagined.

There are two main questions to ask yourself before you purchase a cell phone or activate a service: (1) How much will I use the phone? and (2) How long do I expect to be in the U.S.?

In general, there are two primary ways to access cell phone usage in the U.S.: (1) Pay-as-you-go or (2) Contract phones.

Pay-as-you-go is a more expensive option in terms of overall value but can be good if you are in the U.S. for a limited time or do not expect to use your phone much. You purchase the phone, which is usually rather expensive (at least $50-60 for the simplest models), then purchase minutes, which are often sold to you at a premium price. You must buy more minutes every time you use them up.

Contract Phones are most common in the U.S. The two largest carriers are Verizon and AT&T. Smaller carriers include Sprint, T-Mobile, MetroPCS and others. Generally speaking. Verizon and AT&T have the widest coverage. Contract phones require that you buy a phone from the specific company. You can often get a good price if you follow up and mail in the rebate offer.

You must also sign an agreement for a one or two-year plan. This will mean that once every month you will receive a bill for the use of the service. For single-phone contracts, the base price for this service is usually about $40/month. This amount gives you a limited number of peak daytime minutes per month. It is very ^•important for you to understand that minutes count to your phone whether you have called out or someone has ailed in to you! (This is different than in most other countries.) All carriers have ways that you can check the number of peak minutes you’ve used in the month so that you do not go over. If you do exceed the number of peak minutes, you will be charged a very high price (sometimes almost $.50/minute!), so be careful. Nighttime and weekend minutes anywhere within the U.S. are usually unlimited and will not cost you extra.

It is also very important to realize that texting is often not a free service in the U.S. but often involves an additional charge.

Most companies also charge an initial phone set-up fee between $25-40. They also sometimes require a deposit of $200-500. This amount will be refunded (returned) to you at the end of your completed contract. You should be prepared for a first (and sometimes second) bill that is rather large. After that the bills should become more manageable if you stay within your paid minutes.

If you break a contract (end the contract early), there is often a penalty. If the company has collected a deposit at the start of the contract, they may not refund the deposit. Check to make sure you understand what the consequences are if you fail to keep the one or two-year contract.

Be sure to compare the various plans by the major carriers before signing up for a contract plan.

Very important: Never use your cell phone for calling overseas. It is much too expensive. There are cheaper internet-based options available.

How can I call overseas?
The cheapest and easiest ways to call overseas are Skvpe or Google Phone. With Skype, computer-to-computer is free. It just requires that both parties have a Skype ID and account. Depending on location, sometimes the transmission can be poor, but other times it is quite clear. If you and the person you are calling have webcams, video Skype is also a free option. Skype is also now available through 3G and 4G cell phones that offer internet capabilities (also known as “smartphones”).

Using Skype for computer-to-phone (landline or cell phone without 3G or 4G capabilities) is also possible, but mere is a modest charge for this service. See www.skvpe.com for more details.

Google Phone is a relatively new but convenient and inexpensive option. Google Phone is designed for you to call another person's phone anywhere in the world at very reasonable rates. (These may differ according to country).

Virtual phone cards are also available online, often with inexpensive by-country rates. Be careful, however, to make sure you are purchasing from a reliable source. Look for personal recommendations before you buy these!

Any of these options can. of course, be used within the U.S. as well, sometimes for free or for a nominal (small) fee.

How do i get internet service?

Internet service will be available at your school. You may also choose m, have Internet service in your apartment for an extra fee. Talk with your International Student Advisor about the most reliable and affordable services in your area and about the process for securing them. You can also check online for various options by searching "Internet service providers in (your city)." Usually there is a monthly fee between $20-$40. Initial set-up may be an additional cost. If you want to make your place wireless, you may need to purchase some equipment to do so. Some libraries and coffee shops offer free wireless Internet that you may use while visiting those establishments.


How do I find a person's phone number?

Most campuses provide a directory on the university’s website that lists the phone numbers of professors, academic departments and on-campus services. Some of these directories—whether campus-wide or within various departments—offer student numbers as well, but some do not.

For local calls to individuals, you can usually find the phone number in your local telephone directory (phone book). This book lists the names of people and organizations, street addresses, and phone numbers in a section called the “white pages” (some phone books list people and businesses separately and some list them together). The yellow pages section of the phone book contains phone numbers and some advertisements for businesses. Phone books in most large cities also have a blue pages section that lists local, county, state, and federal government offices (typically in the front of the phone book).

If you have an emergency—such as a medical need, fire, or crime problem—immediately dial 911 from any telephone.

How do i make long-distance calls?
When making a long-distance call on a landline, you will need to dial 1 and the three-digit area code before you dial the regular phone number. If you don’t know the area code, see the information in the front section of your phone book, go to www.areacodelocations.info, search on Google, or contact a local telephone operator (dial “0”). Be aware that there may be a time difference between where you’re calling from and the area you are calling.

All cell phone plans will include “anywhere” minutes which means you can call anywhere in the United States for no extra cost. W’ith cell phones, you do not need to dial the 1 before the 10-digit number. Also, you can use your cell phone most places in the U.S. in the same way that you use it in the city where you’re living. In fact, you will “carry” that area code around with you wherever you go. So, for example, if you have a “650” area ^ ode (San Francisco Bay Area) but are traveling in New York (“212” area code), your phone is still local to the 650 number. You do not need to put in an area code when calling anyone in the 650 area, only outside of it. In larger cities, you may have to dial 10 numbers for a local call, even if your prefix (area code) is the same as the one you are calling.

Most areas of the U.S. have free coverage, but there are some remote areas where cell phone coverage is limited. There may be an extra “roaming” charge for calls made when in these areas. Make sure you check with your company about those charges before you incur them.

What if i need assistance from an operator to make a long-distance call?
To reach an operator for assistance on a long-distance call, dial 0 (zero), the area code, and the telephone number. The operator will ask you what type of assistance you need. Operator-assisted calls are more expensive. The following types of assistance are available:

Person-to-person—to reach a certain person at a phone number (you do not have to pay for the call if that person cannot be reached);

Third-party calls—to charge your call to another number (for example, if you were calling from a friend’s house and w'anted to charge the phone call to yourself at your own telephone number);

Collect—to charge the call to the person you are calling (but the operator will first determine if the receiver ^of your call is willing to accept the charge).

What is a Toll-free number?
Any number with the area code 800. 888. or 877 is toll-free, which means the telephone company will not charge your landline for the call. If you do call a toll-free number using your cell phone during daytime ;ipeakv hours, it will still add into your overall used minutes. Businesses often use these numbers so customers can ^order items from them over the telephone without having to pay for the long-distance call.

On the other hand. BEWARE of any number with a 900 prefix as you will be billed $2 - $4 per minute! It is possible to have these calls blocked so that someone cannot call them from your phone.

Can I use my own cell phone in the U.S.?
You will need to contact your cell phone company to see if that is the best option for you. It may more economical to purchase a cell phone to use while in the United States.