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The 10 Most Expensive Places to Call

The 10 Most Expensive Places to Call To

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International calling can be an expensive endeavor, especially when trying to contact remote or isolated destinations. Calling rates vary widely across the globe, with some countries costing a fortune to dial into due to underdeveloped telecommunications infrastructure, geographic limitations, or political factors. If you need to make a call abroad, it’s wise to research rates to avoid a shocking phone bill. Here are the 10 most expensive places to call:

North Korea

The 10 Most Expensive Places to Call North Korea tops the list as the most expensive place to dial internationally. Rates average $6.19 per minute, according to 2021 data. The isolated nation tightly controls telecommunications and limits phone lines entering the country. Most calls are routed through older analog exchanges rather than modern digital systems. The landline network is extremely outdated, making phone calls an unreliable means of communication. International call quality is often poor.

Madagascar

This remote island nation, located off the coast of Southeast Africa, has very high international calling rates. Prices average around $5.79 per minute. Madagascar’s phone system is antiquated and relies primarily on microwave radio relays and low-earth orbit satellites. Only about 1.4% of residents even have a fixed telephone line. The underdeveloped telecom system and remoteness from network hubs drive up calling costs.

Comoros

The isolated nation of Comoros in the Indian Ocean charges astronomical rates for international calls, averaging $5.45 per minute. The country is comprised of several sparsely populated islands with a lack of modern telecommunications infrastructure. Comoros relies heavily on expensive satellite links for connectivity. Political instability also contributes to the very limited phone network.

Chad

Landlocked Chad in north-central Africa ranks among the most costly places to call from abroad, with rates around $4.55 per minute. As one of the poorest nations on Earth, Chad’s telecoms lag behind much of the world. The system consists mainly of microwave radio relay links and limited open-wire lines. Ongoing conflict and turmoil hamper the development of a modern phone infrastructure. Geographic challenges leave Chad disconnected.

Guinea-Bissau

This small West African country has experienced chronic political instability and economic struggles that have left its telecommunications sector severely underdeveloped. International calls to Guinea-Bissau average $3.95 per minute. The country lacks fiber-optic networks and relies on satellites. Only about 4% of the population has access to fixed phone service. Poverty and a dilapidated infrastructure make calls pricey.

Laos

Mountainous terrain poses challenges for developing reliable phone networks in Laos. International calls come at a premium rate of approximately $3.60 per minute. Less than 10% of the population has landline telephones. Laos relies primarily on limited microwave radio relay lines for service. Connections are routed through neighboring countries, adding additional fees.

Vanuatu

Located far from telecom hubs in the South Pacific Ocean, the 80+ islands of Vanuatu are dependent on costly satellite links for international calls, which average $3.55 per minute. The island nation does not have submarine communication cables, so it must transmit signals by satellite, which involves more steps. Only 7% of citizens have a fixed phone line.

Tuvalu

This Polynesian island country in the South Pacific, made up of nine coral atolls, has an average international calling rate of $3.36 per minute. Tuvalu is one of the most isolated places on Earth. There are no submarine cables, so communication relies entirely on satellite telephones. Very few residents have landlines, given the tiny population. Reaching Tuvalu by phone is a challenge.

Nauru

Nauru is a remote 8-square-mile island in the South Pacific that charges around $3.26 per minute for international calls. The tiny country has no communication cables connecting it to the rest of the world. Nauru depended on one satellite link located at a single facility. A fire destroyed the building last year, further limiting connectivity.

Cuba

While international calling rates to Cuba have dropped in recent years to around $3.15 per minute, it remains one of the most expensive places for Americans to call due to the U.S. embargo. Dire relations have prevented the laying of new submarine fiber optic cables from the U.S. Rates from Cuba to other countries are far cheaper, underscoring the impact of politics on telecommunications.

Country Cost Per Minute Key Factors Driving Up Rates
North Korea $6.19 Tight control over telecom, outdated analog system
Madagascar $5.79 Underdeveloped infrastructure, geographic isolation
Comoros $5.45 Lack of infrastructure, expensive satellite links
Chad $4.55 Poor infrastructure, conflict, and geographic challenges
Guinea-Bissau $3.95 Political instability, lack of fiber optic networks
Laos $3.60 Mountainous terrain, limited infrastructure
Vanuatu $3.55 Dependence on satellites, no submarine cables
Tuvalu $3.36 Extreme isolation, communication via satellite
Nauru $3.26 No communication cables; reliance on one satellite
Cuba $3.15 Impact of U.S. embargo on submarine cables

Ways to Save on International Calls

While calling these destinations may seem daunting, there are ways to avoid astronomical phone bills. Using VoIP services like Skype or WhatsApp can drastically reduce costs, particularly for video calls. Pay-as-you-go providers like Callmama offer cheap prepaid international calling cards. Always research country-specific discount providers, as some places have lower-cost alternatives. Leverage landline calling options or mobile apps when feasible. Limit calls to only urgent needs, and use email or text messages whenever possible. With some diligence, you can stay affordably connected to loved ones abroad.

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The 10 Most Expensive Places to Call: Sky-High International Calling Rates

Placing an international phone call can be costly, depending on where you are dialing. Certain remote and isolated destinations charge sky-high rates due to underdeveloped telecommunications, geographic limitations, and political factors. Calling these countries from abroad requires deep pockets. If you need to contact someone in one of the priciest locations worldwide for telephone service, be prepared for lofty long-distance fees.

North Korea: The Most Expensive Place to Call

North Korea tops the list as the most expensive country to call from overseas. According to 2021 data, international call rates to North Korea average a shocking $6.19 per minute. What makes the isolated nation so pricey for international calls? Strict government control over telecommunications infrastructure is one reason rates are astronomical. Most telephone lines are still analog rather than digital. The phone system relies on severely outdated electromechanical switching centers from the 1960s—an ancient relic by modern standards. The limited number of phone lines into North Korea cannot handle high call volumes, so the capacity bottleneck drives up costs. Very few North Koreans have access to a home telephone, and call quality on these residential lines remains dismal. Trying to call a North Korean mobile phone is essentially impossible, given restrictive device policies. For foreigners dialing into North Korea, connections are routed through older analog exchanges rather than fiber-optic cables capable of transmitting high-quality digital signals. This results in very poor call quality at an exorbitant price.

Madagascar: Remote Island Location

Madagascar’s remote island location off the coast of Southeast Africa makes international calls very expensive, averaging around $5.79 per minute. Lack of modern telecommunications infrastructure in the country is the main culprit for lofty long-distance dialing fees. Only about 1.4% of the population has a fixed telephone landline. Madagascar has limited fibre optic networks and relies primarily on outdated microwave radio relay technology or satellites for transmission. The phone system depends on above-ground lines rather than buried underground cables. All these deficiencies lead to dismal call completion rates. Geographical factors also drive up costs. Madagascar lies far from the undersea communications cables that connect major continents. This remoteness from network hubs necessitates reliance on satellites and multiple telecom operators to complete international calls, which imposes additional fees. Dialing in requires paying steep rates.

Comoros, an Isolated Island Nation

The isolated island nation of Comoros in the Indian Ocean charges a premium for international calls, with rates around $5.45 per minute. Comoros is made up of several far-flung islands that lack modern telecommunications infrastructure. Only about 7% of the population has a fixed landline. The islands depend primarily on expensive satellite links for connectivity rather than submarine communications cables. This satellite reliance comes at a very high cost for overseas callers trying to reach Comoros. The geographic separation and scattering of islands across a vast ocean expanse also drive up international calling rates. Communications must hop between multiple operators travelling long distances. Political instability and coups have stymied telecom investment and maintenance, deteriorating already limited phone networks. High prices reflect this isolation.

Chad – Challenges of a Landlocked Country

In the central African nation of Chad, international calling rates average around $4.55 per minute. Chad happens to be one of the most challenging places for telecommunications as a landlocked country far from access to submarine fiber optic cables. The nation is entirely dependent on legal and technical arrangements with neighboring countries to route calls. This introduces additional routing burdens that ramp up costs. Chad’s phone system consists primarily of microwave radio relay links and very limited open-wire lines which hampers connectivity. Ongoing conflict and civil unrest also severely restrict the development and maintenance of modern telecom infrastructure in Chad. Only about 6.4% of people have a landline. Poverty and lack of investment in Chad’s systems substantially impede improvements to affordable international call access.

Guinea-Bissau – Political Instability & Underinvestment

Guinea-Bissau’s long history of political instability and economic struggles have left telecommunications severely underdeveloped. International calls to this small West African country average around $3.95 per minute. The nation completely lacks fiber optic networks and relies exclusively on outdated satellite links. Only about 4% of the population has access to fixed telephone service. Call completion rates are dismal at just 50% for domestic calls and even lower for overseas calls. Chronic political turmoil stymied any telecom upgrades or infrastructure investment. Guinea-Bissau also suffers from its position off the coast away from major fiber optic connections. Residents pay exorbitant satellite fees to connect internationally. Poverty among the population limits demand and ability to pay.

Laos – Mountainous Terrain

Laos proves one of the priciest Asian countries for international calls with rates around $3.60 per minute. The mountainous terrain poses major impediments to developing reliable telecommunications networks. Less than 10% of the population has access to landlines. Laos relies predominantly on limited microwave radio relay lines rather than underground fibre optic systems. Much of the lines above ground have deteriorated due to weather and poor maintenance. Laos links its telecom infrastructure through neighboring countries, adding layers that drive up international calling costs. Fiber networks are concentrated mainly in major cities while rural mountain regions lack connectivity. Dependence on satellites to reach remote zones also boosts charges for overseas callers.

Vanuatu – No Submarine Cables

The 80+ islands of Vanuatu in the South Pacific depend on very expensive satellite connections for international communication at around $3.55 per minute. The island nation lacks access to any submarine fiber optic cables. Without underwater links, Vanuatu must transmit signals by satellite which adds steps that increase fees. Only about 7% of the population has access to fixed phone lines. Cell phone usage has risen rapidly, but costly satellite remains the only option for overseas connectivity. Given Vanuatu’s remote location far from major networks, calls must travel through multiple operators before completing half a world away. This distance-based hopping ramps up pricing. Lack of infrastructure investment due to the small market size also hinders improvements.

Tuvalu – Remoteness in the South Pacific

Situated between Hawaii and Australia, the tiny Polynesian island country of Tuvalu is one of the most isolated places on Earth. International calls average $3.36 per minute. Tuvalu’s total population numbers only about 11,000 people spread across 9 coral atolls. There are no submarine communications cables, so the country relies entirely on costly satellite phones and internet. Satellite broadband speeds are also dismally slow. Only a handful of inhabitants have access to landlines. The remoteness and micro-population hinder infrastructure investment. Tuvalu is thousands of miles from major telecom network hubs which must be bridged by multiple operators at high cost. Calling here involves paid hops across vast ocean distances via satellite, multiplying fees.

Nauru – A Tiny 8 Square Mile Island

Nauru is a tiny 8 square mile island nation in the South Pacific only accessible by sea or air. International calls to the remote country average $3.26 per minute. Like Tuvalu, Nauru lies far from critical submarine fiber optic cables and has no choice but to depend on expensive satellite links for connectivity. The island houses just a single telecom facility that was damaged in a fire, further cutting off access.

Geographic isolation is the prime culprit for astronomical calling rates. Nauru is essentially in the middle of nowhere – almost 3,000 miles from the nearest telecom hub. Overseas calls must traverse vast ocean distances and multiple carriers to reach the tiny island, accruing hefty charges along the way.

Cuba – Impact of the U.S. Embargo

While international calling rates to Cuba have become cheaper in recent years, averaging around $3.15 per minute, it remains one of the most expensive places for Americans to call. This price premium is due almost entirely to the ongoing U.S. embargo against Cuba. Years of frozen relations have prevented connections to updated submarine communication cables between the two countries. Cuba taps into older cables first laid during the Soviet era. The lack of modern infrastructure means audio quality is notoriously poor for U.S. callers.

However, calling Cuba from other countries around the world costs pennies per minute – a fraction of the price from America. This huge discrepancy demonstrates how politics obstruct telecom advances and inflate international rates. Until the embargo lifts, costs will remain inflated for calls originating from the U.S.

call Nigeria from the UK, calling Nigeria from the UK.

Ways To Save Money On International Calls

Making calls abroad can rack up massive phone bills quickly. But savvy consumers have many options to slash international calling costs and stay affordably connected with far-away family or friends. Through using internet-based communications, shopping discount providers, and simply limiting talk time, you can master the art of cheap international dialling.

Use VoIP Calling Services

One of the most popular options for very low cost international calls is using a Voice over IP (VoIP) service. VoIP platforms like Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime Audio, Google Voice and more enable voice calls over the internet rather than through traditional phone networks. This allows for significantly reduced call rates.

  • Skype has long been a top choice for cheap international calling. You can purchase Skype Credit to call traditional landlines and mobile numbers around the world for as little as $0.02 per minute in some countries. Video calls only cost about $0.10 per minute with Skype. Just make sure the recipient overseas also has Skype.
  • WhatsApp has also become a favorite international calling tool. Voice and video calls through the app to any user worldwide is completely free. Both parties just need an internet connection and the WhatsApp messaging platform installed. This is an unbeatable value for international communication.
  • Other top VoIP apps like Google Voice or FaceTime Audio also enable super affordable international calling over wifi or mobile data. VoIP leverages the internet to bypass conventional calling networks and cut costs.

Consider Pay-As-You-Go Calling Cards

Prepaid international calling cards are a flexible option without signing any monthly contracts. Providers like Callmama offer calling cards that can call mobile phones or landlines in foreign countries for rates as low as $0.02 per minute. You pay upfront to add money to the calling card account, then dial a local access number and enter your card’s PIN to make discounted international calls. When the card balance runs out, you just purchase more credit. Pay-as-you-go cards allow controlling spending and avoid getting stuck with monthly bills. Just be sure to read the fine print. Some calling cards have maintenance fees, connection charges, or other hidden costs that can eat into your balance quickly. Check rates for the specific countries you will call frequently. Compare a few leading prepaid international calling card providers to find the best deal based on your needs.

Leverage Landline Calling Plans

For frequent international calling to traditional landlines or mobile phones (not using internet-based calling), getting an international calling plan through your landline or mobile carrier may offer savings.

Many major providers like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile now offer monthly international calling bundles at flat rates. For example, AT&T provides an unlimited Mexico and Canada plan for $5/month. T-Mobile offers unlimited talk to landlines in 70+ countries for $15/month.

The key is picking the right carrier plan that includes the countries you call most often at reasonable monthly prices without overpaying. Always read the fine print for any limitations or overage fees that could quickly increase costs.

Download Calling Apps

If you need to dial traditional international phone lines while traveling abroad or from a mobile device, download an international calling app. Apps like Rebtel, JustCall, and iCall provide direct international dialing access using internet connectivity through wifi or mobile data. Just enter the overseas number and the app will connect your call. This circumvents exorbitant roaming fees from your cell provider when traveling overseas. International calling apps offer rates as low as $0.50 per minute to call foreign mobile and landline numbers. Compare app rates carefully to find the cheapest option for your destinations.

Send Texts Instead of Calling

When convenience allows, opt for texting over calling internationally to save money. Messaging apps like WhatsApp offer free unlimited international texting between users. Even regular SMS texts tend to be much cheaper than voice calling per minute when going abroad. Getting a local SIM card for your mobile device when traveling overseas helps significantly lower texting rates. You can also try apps like TextNow that provide a free international phone number to send SMS messages on wifi. Determine the countries your contacts have messaging access in and use that instead of costly calls whenever logical.

Research Country-Specific Options

Don’t assume major U.S. carriers have the cheapest international rates to all regions. There are often country-specific phone companies that cater to immigrant communities and provide discounted calling rates to their home nations. For instance, Cuban-based providers like HablaCuba offer some of the most affordable calling rates to Cuba from the U.S. However these smaller niche telecom companies can be harder to find. Ask foreign-born friends for referrals to companies offering cheap calls to their home countries.

Use an International Softphone

A softphone app provides international calling capability without a landline or mobile phone. Apps like SpaceTalk, Zoiper, and Acrobits, allow direct outbound dialing to foreign numbers over an internet connection using VoIP technology for discounted rates. Softphones mimic Skype functionality but focus specifically on cheap international calling. They provide unique features like assigning virtual local numbers across different countries. This grants flexibility when your contacts abroad have varying access capabilities.

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Consider Satellite Phones

For people located in extremely remote areas like offshore rigs or expedition ships, satellite phones may be the only reliable option for international calls. Providers like Globalstar offer connectivity beyond traditional cellular networks through orbiting satellites. Satellite coverage spans the globe. But call rates are expensive, ranging from $1 to $2 per minute for most maritime and land-based regions. Service can also be spotty during adverse weather or environmental blockages. But satellite phones remain a vital lifeline for remote field communications.

Conclusion

Calling abroad can potentially rack up massive phone bills, especially when contacting exotic overseas destinations with underdeveloped telecom infrastructure. But by leveraging modern internet-based voice and video chat technologies, researching discount providers, and minimizing call lengths, international calling can be very affordable. The most significant savings come from using Voice over IP (VoIP) services like Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime, or Google Voice. These platforms enable cheap international calling over internet data connections instead of through traditional telephony networks. VoIP calls are often just pennies per minute. Prepaid international calling cards also provide flexible discounted rates when purchasing a set amount of minutes upfront. Calling apps for mobile devices like Rebtel can further slash costs whentravellingg overseas or calling foreign mobile numbers. Even landline carriers are now offering monthly international calling bundles at reasonable flat rates. But beware of hidden fees or overages that can quickly escalate costs. When possible, try substituting short message service (SMS) texting for voice calls. Texts cost far less per message sent than minutes spent talking. Downloading a local SIM card also lowers texting rates when abroad. Researching country-specific discount providers instead of just major U.S. carriers can uncover deals on calls to select nations like Cuba. But these niche telecoms are sometimes challenging to find. International calling technology improves constantly, so compare rates frequently when you need to contact far-flung destinations. A bit of diligence saves huge amounts over time. With all the affordable options available today, no one should shun keeping in touch with loved ones overseas. Staying connected is pivotal for relationships and mental health, even across oceans. With some savvy shopping, international calling can fit nearly any budget. The world feels a little smaller when we use technology wisely to nurture bonds across any distance.

Rehmath Ali, a native of Mumbai, is a highly accomplished professional in business and marketing. After completing his MBA at Oriental College, he quickly rose through the ranks to become a successful independent businessperson. With a profound passion for his work, Rehmath views it as a source of relaxation. Over the past 11 years, he has excelled as a Business Development Manager, making a significant impact in the telecommunications industry. Despite coming from a family with a background in the Gold business, Rehmath chose to pursue a different path, focusing on telecommunications. His expertise lies in handling voice and services for My Country Mobile. Under his guidance, the business has experienced remarkable growth, with a consistent annual increase of 30%. Notably, the Voice Vertical has generated millions of dollars in revenue. Currently, Rehmath serves as the Head of the Callmama Division at My Country Mobile, aiming to surpass one million customers by 2024.

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