Keeping a US Phone Number
When we left the US, we knew we needed a way to keep our US phone numbers operational. We wanted our friends and family (and in my husband’s case - work contacts) to be able to reach us as easily as they could when we were living in Austin. After much research into all of the different options like dual SIM cards and different VOIP options, we settled on Ring Central.
Technically, Ring Central is a business solution, but we’ve found it is perfect for our family’s needs. We can use it on our normal, everyday cell phones (yeah! No second phone to carry around!) or on a computer. It is a VOIP system so if I’m connected to wifi, it runs over that. This is especially useful when travelling back in the US as I can get any SIM card with data and still use my US number. If I’m out and about, it uses my data plan, not minutes. I can get texts, voicemails, and calls just like I could in Austin. All of my contacts automatically popped up in the RC App on my iPhone. And hallelujah, there’s visual voicemail, which is oddly lacking in New Zealand. There’s also the bonus of being able to do multi-purpose conference calls if I ever need to get my mom, sister, and other families on a call at the same time. I also love that I was able to port over my existing American number. (Unfortunately, that means that I still get all of the robo-calls I got in the US, but at least RC lets me block them…)
The downside is that it isn’t free like Skype - we pay about $50 a month for all the calls and texts we could ever want - and that instead of a normal ring tone for someone calling from the United States, the caller has to listen to some elevator-music-equivalent tunes. (Honestly, it isn’t that bad - it’s just funny.) The final downside is that Ring Central has a hard time switching from wifi to data automatically. This is a problem if I’m on a call and get in the car to the leave the house. I have to remember to manually change to data or I’ll probably lose the call.
The quality of the connection is top notch. I can’t tell the difference between a normal call and a VOIP call. Even when I’m connected to my car’s bluetooth. The connection is always spot on.
So would I recommend Ring Central? Yes, especially if you’ve got multiple family members with existing US phone numbers. If it was just me, I might consider doing the Google Voice -> Skype hack, but it is wonderful to be able to keep it as simple as can be with Ring Central.