ThimphuTech was the first technology blog in Bhutan. We started writing it in 2009, just as broadband and mobile internet started to take off. (Although internet in Bhutan was launched in 1999, it was either super-slow or super-expensive, and was only used by a selected few).

In the blog, we wrote about technology and food, but also about plenty of other stuff. The blog became popular and influential in Bhutan. A companion bi-weekly column -- Ask Boaz -- was published for many years in the Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper. (The complete Kuensel columns are available as an ebook, Blogging with Dragons).

We stopped updating the blog when we left Bhutan in 2014, but the information within the posts can still prove useful, and thus we decided to keep it online.

We thank all our readers.
Tashi Delek,
Boaz & Galit.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Free Skype calls to the U.S.

Skype allows you to talk to friends for free, as long as both of you are using Skype ("Skype-to-Skype" calls). If your overseas friend is not on Skype, you can also use Skype to call regular phone numbers. This feature is known as SkypeOut, and costs a few cents a minute, depending on the destination, plus a per-call connection fee. A 10 minute call to the U.S.A. would cost around Nu. 13 (given today's exchange rates), which is not too bad.

To use SkypeOut you would need Skype Credit - basically a prepay arrangement - and for that a credit card is usually required. However, you might find it useful to know that you can call many phone numbers in the U.S. for free, even if you don't have Skype Credit. These numbers are known as toll-free numbers, and they start with one of the following prefixes: 1-800, 1-866, 1-877, and 1-888. Just launch Skype, click on "Call phones", and enter the phone number, starting with +1 (the U.S.A. country code). Most businesses in the U.S.A. provide a toll-free number. For example, you can call most airlines using their toll free number here (since these are U.S. numbers, don't forget to add the +1 country code). To find the toll-free number of a U.S.-based business, check its website, or call the toll-free directory (in itself a toll-free number) at +1-800-555-1212.

Skype also supports free calls to toll-free numbers in the U.K., Taiwan, France and Poland. See the complete list here.