Sunday, December 04, 2005

Telephones, Yet Again

I am coming to the conclusion that it is just not possible to make sense of anything relating to telephones in the Czech Republic.
First off, one should never spend more than five minutes talking on a cell phone unless it is an international call, because at least the international rate that I get is not wholly outrageous. I suspect it is cheaper to call the US than to call within the Czech Republic, even though I have a Czech number. Fortunately, I can send countless text messages, which are ideal in most situations.
Second, while Skype is free, Skype-Out rates (to call people who don’t have Skype on their computers) vary by country and type of phone called. It did not take long to discover that the Skype-Out rate to call Czech mobile phones cannot possibly be any improvement upon calling them from my own mobile phone. It is, in fact, 21¢ American per minute, versus slightly more than 2¢ to call the continental US! The 10-euro credit one has just bought is gone in a flash. Yes, I could be calling loads of friends, family, and my whole writing group for less than it costs to call anyone in the Czech Republic. I could be calling my advisor on a daily basis, assuming this would not cause her to throw her phone down out the window and run screaming from the building.
And third (that’s right, I was making a list), I don’t know what Český Telecom is up to. My ADSL service has been functional for the better part of a month and is supposed to be a flat rate (that is, I could be online 24 hours a day if I wanted), but my latest bill looks pretty much like the last one, which is to say unpleasant and with no mention of the switch in service to ADSL. My one international call shows up as one of the smaller sums. I don’t get it. Something will have to be done. I need my home internet access.
But, on the more positive side, recent attempts to use ordinary free Skype between Prague and Brno have been relatively successful other than some instances of poor sound quality and lag. For free, this is acceptable… Well, maybe. (The connection is most likely to die once the conversation becomes animated.) We do have a weird form of internet connection to deal with on the Brno end, which means that a conversation can use up the battery of the cell phone that provides the connection. --!!-- Is everyone confused enough yet? In order to avoid calling one cell phone in Brno, a second cell phone is used to create an internet connection there. No, I don’t understand how that works either. This kind of thing must be why people make jokes about Brno.

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