Calling France – Bonjour Farrell

How much does it cost to call France? Don’t answer yet.

Stef has an assignment for a journalism course. She has to compare media in the United States with media in another country. I know two people who’ve worked in media in Singapore. I suggested she choose that. Contacts are invaluable.

My friend Farrell, who now runs a TV network in Poland, used to run stations in Singapore. Usually we talk on the computer, using IM or email. To ask some questions for Stef, I figured I’d call.

It’s not that easy.

There’s a broadcasters’ convention currently underway in Cannes, France. Farrell is there.

He gave me his phone number, tapping it out on his Blackberry via IM and I called the hotel… but instead of getting it, I got a recording telling me my call couldn’t go through and I should check with my system administrator.

That’s me! I hate when that happens.

A quick call to my VOIP phone provider, Broadvoice (where tech support answered on the FIRST RING!!!) brought an equally quick answer. Buried two menus deep on their website was a checkbox allowing international calls on my account. The box was unchecked.

When you call a hotel in France, they answer in French. I don’t know enough to ask for a room, so I panicked and blurted out my request in English. The operator totally understood.

“Merci,” I said… though probably too late for her to hear. Farrell picked up a second later.

I have to say, the quality of this call was very impressive. Because I was typing notes, I had him on the speakerphone. Helaine commented he sounded better than if he were on my cellphone.

So, how much for the call? My plan, Broadvoice’s least expensive, is $9.95 per month for unlimited calls to Connecticut. International is extra.


Each minute to France was 3&#162! That’s crazy.

I remember, in 1967, when AT&T totally overhauled its rate structure for domesticlong distance calls. Station-to-station, direct dial calls within the United States went down to 10&#162 per minute as long as the call was placed after 11:00 PM or on the weekend.

We live in amazing times for technology.