VoIP may save you on interstate calls, but it's also great for keeping in touch when you're overseas. David Braue explains how it has helped him move his virtual office to Singapore at almost no cost.
There comes a time when every technology journalist has to eat his own dog food, so to speak, by using the technology we love to blather on about. For me, that time came while staring down a six-month relocation from Melbourne to Singapore.
As a freelance writer, there was fortunately no boss to plead with or leave to arrange -- but I faced the very real problem of maintaining continuity with Australian clients while I was in Singapore.
Email was never going to be a problem: I manage my own domain name, so was going to be able to redirect incoming mail to whatever email provider I ended up with while overseas. Ditto faxes, which are already handled on my behalf by virtual fax provider mBox, which converts incoming messages to a PDF file that's automatically emailed to me.
The only issue -- and the biggest one, since most of my work is done over the phone -- was how to best set up a phone service that would keep me easily contactable during my time overseas. Mobile roaming works a treat, but anybody who has ever used it knows that the price of around AU$1 a minute -- for both incoming and outgoing calls -- adds up really quickly.
Phone cards are of course cheap and widely available in Singapore as here, but they require, surprisingly enough, a phone -- and competition amongst carriers means SingTel actually offers calls to Australia and elsewhere at no premium to calls within the country. Setting up a landline phone there requires a AU$500 deposit and loads of paperwork -- something I wanted to avoid if I could given that I only needed six months of service.