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Old 06-27-07, 08:18 PM   #1
The Weak Link
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Just a bit OT -- telecommunications?

This crowd strikes me as a pretty savvy bunch, so excuse the OT nature of the thread, but I wanted to get some information before I get voted off the island.

In about two to three months I will be traveling to Eastern Europe on a nonbusiness-related issue (perhaps to train with Vinokurov?) and I will need to be in touch with the office pretty much on a daily basis to tend to this and that.

Anyone know the cheapest and easiest way to stay in touch?

Choices:
--international cell phone service and text messaging.
--Internet access via international cell phone service (I have a Treo).
--take a laptop and go wireless.
--take a laptop and visit the local Internet cafes, figuring out how to work the email batching (which I've never done because I've never needed to).
--take nothing, find a good Internet cafe, and get use to having coffee and Chocolate Gateau with the locals (although my Russian is so bad that I couldn't order it to save my life at the moment).

Thankee.
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Old 06-27-07, 08:23 PM   #2
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Big questions: will you be sending/receiving files? Will you have to sign "faxes"? Is it OK if you can't check in for a few days? Will you be urban, then?

Oh, and was it you that was tethering the laptop to the PDA? That's the best of both worlds... you can use either, then.
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Old 06-27-07, 08:28 PM   #3
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No files or faxes. Numerous messages, email-type of stuff. No signatures. Urban for the most part (Kiev and Simferopal). Probably need to check in 5 days a week.
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Old 06-27-07, 09:21 PM   #4
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Skype. It's free. I just used it to stay in touch with my daughter who was visiting relatives in Frankfurt.

But put slicks on it first, and ixnay on the ellbay.
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Old 06-27-07, 09:41 PM   #5
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http://www.skype.com/ is free PC to PC and cheap PC to phone.
On top of that it works.
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Old 06-27-07, 09:42 PM   #6
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And I'm still trying to get Verizon to work in the major cities in Mexico.
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Old 06-27-07, 10:35 PM   #7
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Just for a chuckle...I spent 31 years in the telecom/datacom industry - retired in '94. The changes have been so many and so fast since, that I have no clue whatsoever.
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Old 06-27-07, 10:44 PM   #8
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Depends where you are staying…. If you are staying in a major US hotel such as Marriott then laptop connected to the Internet and Skype. You may or may not be able to connect wirelessly. Some international connections are really slow and if that is the case then Skype is useless. I would not rely on your phone working even if your carrier says it will or may. I have a GSM phone that takes SIM cards for each country or region. It is expensive but cheaper per minute than T-Mobile and it always works. Good luck. Do not drink the water and make sure your hepatitis vaccination is up to date.
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Old 06-28-07, 04:43 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by card
And I'm still trying to get Verizon to work in the major cities in Mexico.
So, the crowds of hundreds standing right behind you don't work for Verizon???
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Old 06-28-07, 04:55 AM   #10
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I use to travel with two bags one for power adapters and one for phone adapters. You could then get an international dialup number or use ATT international to do a dialup internet connection. It was a big pain as each country has a different type of phone jack. These days as Hermes says if you stay in a larger Western hotel you will probably find internet but the rates will be high especially if you are in the UK. If you can get an internet connection you can use Skype for calls and access your e-mail in the normal fashion.

In the US these days I travel with a Sprint card which gives me instant broadband almost everywhere for my laptop. You could see if a similar service is available from a European carrier. If so you probably have a reasonable chance of this working in most countries since it would rely on the cell phone system and Europe is pretty well centralized on GSM. If you are going to Kazakhstan to see Vino you may be out of luck.
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Old 06-28-07, 07:22 AM   #11
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When I travel, I have my e-mail forwarded to my yahoo account. That way if I can get on the internet I can access my e-mail. I went to Iceland recently and had no problem finding free internet access. In fact the most difficult part was remembering how to enter the letter c as in yahoo.com. Icelandic keyboards don't have a letter c.

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Old 06-28-07, 07:41 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maddmaxx
So, the crowds of hundreds standing right behind you don't work for Verizon???
Sure they are. About a thousand miles behind me back in the USA.
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Old 06-28-07, 08:28 AM   #13
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I use this service for international wireless solutions. http://www.telestial.com/

You can check out if there is a solution in your price range for where you are going. And it is really conveniant to have communication instantly when you land at an international location and you do not have to figure out how the local phones work.

This company is interesting in that you can have a local telephone number in country without having an equivalent of a social security number. In most places, foreigners cannot sign up for local service. I travel to Brazil frequently and have my own Brazilian number. The calls I receive in Brazil are free. I only pay for outbound calls. If you use the call back service, then you dial a US number, hang up before it is answered and a computer calls you back with your party on line. The mobile charge is zero and you only pay for the low call back rate. This is designed for parties who require more service but it is an alternative to using T-Mobile or ATT, if they work, and paying the high international roaming rates for both incoming and outgoing. They offer multicountry SIM cards.

I assume you are being picked up at the airport by people you trust. If not, Russia is a dangerous place so stay alert and figure that the bad guys are everywhere, will spot you immediately and have proven ways to acquire your stuff.
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Old 06-28-07, 08:40 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermes
Depends where you are staying…. If you are staying in a major US hotel such as Marriott then laptop connected to the Internet and Skype. You may or may not be able to connect wirelessly. Some international connections are really slow and if that is the case then Skype is useless. I would not rely on your phone working even if your carrier says it will or may. I have a GSM phone that takes SIM cards for each country or region. It is expensive but cheaper per minute than T-Mobile and it always works. Good luck. Do not drink the water and make sure your hepatitis vaccination is up to date.
At home I use Skype with dial-up but my connection is never slower
than 46 kbps. Playing only slightly fast and loose with the facts, if
you consider that a voice line has enough bandwidth for voice then
you can expect it to have bandwidth for compressed voice. When
all the handshaking etc. is added in then I'd guess that you couldn't
work with dial-up slower than 30 kbps. As I recall, if you have ATT
for an ISP you can have international dial-up. If you try that then
expect connector plug hell. In western Europe there is wi-fi everywhere.
Don't know about eastern Europe (which Europeans call central
Europe!)

I'm just about positive that all European cell phones are GSM so
if you currently have T-Mobile or ATT here then you have a GSM
phone. To get local service you would need to buy a SIM card
there but there is a catch: branded phones (T-MO, ATT Cingular)
won't accept alien SIMs without going thru a SIM-unlock. T-MO
will provide the code for customers of standing (can't remember
how many months) and ATT I believe will refuse you. There are
companies which will provide unlock codes for a fee (Google SIM
unlock) but I have never dealt with that. With the new SIM card
you will have a phone number in the local country.

Phone calls from the US to Europe to a landline will be significantly
cheaper than to a mobile phone. Also outside the US only the
caller pays. Last time I was in Europe text messages (SMS) cost
.35 with T-MO and my home SIM but they couldn't bill me right
and it came to .05. There was no important delay.
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Old 06-28-07, 12:33 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stonecrd
If you are going to Kazakhstan to see Vino you may be out of luck.
Everyone knows he prefers to train in Ukraine becasue of the better road conditions and terrain.

They're not scheduled to have a civil war in Ukraine until around the 1st of October, so if I can make it there and back by then we should be OK.

I appreciate everyone's advise. Lot's of good stuff here.
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Old 06-28-07, 12:45 PM   #16
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I'd recommend homing pigeons, but sometimes the neighbors complain about the mess they make!
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