Do you have friends who live abroad? Perhaps you do business internationally and speak frequently with associates across the globe. Or maybe you keep in touch regularly with family members who have moved to a different country. No matter your circumstances, it’s likely that you are close to someone who lives outside of Australia. These days, your friends and family are more mobile than ever before, but it is easier than ever to keep them feeling close.

Did you know that you can make international calls for FREE? The Internet makes it possible to connect with family, friends, and colleagues at no cost to you---provided you’ve got an Internet connection and a working device. With plenty of phone and video options, you can connect to those you care about in personal and enjoyable ways---instantly. Want to call another country for free? Read on to see all the ways you can do exactly that. 

A Brief History of Communication

Once upon a time, it was very difficult to get a message to a family member or friend. Writing a lengthy letter was your only option, and, depending on a letter’s destination, the journey to its recipient could take weeks or even months. At one time, it would require months to get a message from one country to another, such as from Europe to America. Messages were carried across the sea on freighter ships, whalers, and other vessels. On land, horse and rider were the delivery method. You would hope that your letter arrived without delay or problem, and sometimes it did, but if not, you may never even know. In short, early communication was limited, inefficient, and often unreliable. This made it difficult for those family members and friends living at great distances to keep abreast of one another’s doings. 

In the 1830s, the telegraph was first introduced to the world. This remarkable invention dramatically changed human’s ability to connect. Now, a large physical distance could be breached using the new technology of wires and electrical signatures. Morse code was also developed as an international language of communication, allowing messages sent via telegraph to be lengthy and complex.

But what about other nations? Could the telegraph reach them? When the transatlantic cable came into being, this suddenly opened up fresh new possibilities. A transatlantic telegraph wire crossing the Atlantic Ocean finally connected Europe and the U.S. in 1866. In Australia, 1872 was our year. It was at this time that an overland telegraph line was erected connecting Darwin to Port Augusta, and allowing for rapid communication throughout the continent. That same year, we became connected to the rest of the world, when an oversea telegraph cable linked Darwin with Banjoewangie, Java, where a British cable existed.

Finally, just seven years later, the telephone arrived. Australia’s first telephone service opened in 1879. By 1884, around 7700 calls were being managed.

Long distance calling became a notion in the early 1900s, but even until the end of the twentieth century, it was incredibly costly. Many of us may even remember a time not so long ago when a long distance call cost an exorbitant amount of money. This made such calls very infrequent and forcing us to keep them quite brief!

But these tales belong in the past. Today, technology means we can have long conversations with those we love, and if we choose the right methods, we can even do so without paying a penny!

We’re More Connected than Ever

Why do we need so many options to communicate today?

Because we are more globally connected and linked than ever before.

Business takes place on an international scale. News from one nation to the next is transmitted instantly. More than 100,000 flights occur every day (approximately 1600 daily in Australia alone). The world’s citizens are moving and travelling often, as opportunities present themselves. It’s not unusual, for example, for the average Australian to have a cousin who lives in the UK, a young adult child studying/working in Canada, or friends spending several months of the year in Bali. These Australians need a way to keep in touch with these individuals, often intending to speak to them daily or weekly. In 2018, the myriad of ways to do so is a wonderful thing.

Video Chats: Face-to-Face is Possible

Before we delve into the various ways to make international calls, let’s talk about the various ways you can call.

Video chats are an entirely new way to connect with friends, family, and business partners. In the 90s even, this was still a cutting edge development. But in 2018? Video chatting is the norm. And it’s not just for teens using Snapchat.

Video calls are extra special because they provide a level of interaction you simply can’t get from the telephone itself. Body language speaks loudly. Many companies now even conduct job interviews over Skype and other video chat software, as this is as similar to an in-person interview as you can get, and it can save time and money when considering candidates who are not in the immediate area.

For family members, video chatting is tremendous fun. Grandparents can keep in touch with their growing grandchildren. There’s nothing so lovely as seeing them laugh and play right on the screen in front of you. This is also beneficial to kids, who can get to know their relatives as easily as if they lived in the same town. 

How Can I Call My Friends & Family Abroad for FREE?

Here are a few of your top options for making free international calls. While there are heaps of services and apps to choose from, it’s often best to use the most popular, as this is probably where many of your friends and family are already “hanging out!”

Remember, the key to the free call is not to use your mobile phone number or your landline. Instead, the apps and services below work over your Internet connection. Ideally, you can connect over WiFi for 100% free calling, but if you can’t access WiFi, you can still use data on your mobile phone’s data plan. 

Using Skype for International Calls

Skype is the video chat service of choice for many. It’s quite reliable and many are familiar with how it works. It’s also fairly easy to use. All you need to make a video call is a working webcam and an Internet connection. This can be on your laptop or desktop computer, or on your mobile device. These days, nearly every smartphone has a camera.

Skype has been around since 2003, so you can feel pretty confident they’ve worked out the “kinks.” Skype is available as an app, as a downloaded program, or as an in-browser service. You can even use Skype to phone landlines and mobile phones, but for a small fee. But want to connect to another Skype user? Absolutely free, no matter where you are on earth. Just don’t forget to account for the time difference!

Using Facebook Messenger for International Calls

Another super simple way to call abroad is by using your Facebook Messenger. It’s likely you are already using the Facebook Messenger app (13 million Australians do so per month!). Like Skype, you can do both video calls and regular calls on the Messenger app. It’s especially easy to switch back and forth between the two, should you need to, or to transition from text chat to a phone call.

Facebook has also taken to including some fun, quirky features in the Messenger app. When you’re on a video chat with a friend, you can add stickers, backgrounds, and even glitter to your image. This brings a bit of the fun of an app like Snapchat into a messaging app that is frequently used by adults.

Grab your mobile device, connect to your WiFi, and phone someone you care about!

Using Apps for International Calls

FaceTime, WhatsApp, Viber? There are so many options for using an app to make a free call. If you try to call someone's landline or cell phone from the app, charges may occur, but when calling app to app, it's usually 100% free. Some apps also allow for group calls.

WhatsApp is a very popular choice. It has over 1 billion users across the globe, and makes for easy calls over WiFi. New features have been added to the program, too, allowing users to share photos and videos in the vein of Snapchat’s “stories.”

LINE is another app that is growing in popularity. More than 600 million users are on LINE, and it is reportedly well-used in Asia. Ask your friends and family if they use LINE and you can call them easily and often. 

Getting Started

It no longer costs a lot of money to connect with friends and family across the miles. Try downloading one of these apps now and see how it works for you. There are many tutorials on how to use them online (though most services are very easy to use), or find a helpful family member to show you how it’s done. Happy chatting!

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