29 June 2010

Long, long distance

Buzy day today.  Even got to the "office" early.  Anyways, I had Adobong Pork Chop with salad greens and tomatoes for lunch, and...  Salmon, Carrots, and Tomatoes (all grilled) for dinner! :-)  I also played basketball today, losing 2 out of 3 games.  For some reason it was difficult to make a shot today.  Too tired?

Anyways, so I'm in Japan, and Mara, my love, is in the Philippines.  How do we keep in touch????

Thank God for the Internet and 3G phones, there are so many ways to.

First up, there is Skype.  So whenever we're both free (usually most of the week), we make it a point to video chat, usually in the evenings but also sometimes on weekend or holiday daytime.  So that's FREE voice calls, FREE video calls, and FREE messaging (chatting) usually in the evenings.

Before leaving the Philippines, I applied for bill rebates from my Philippines-based cellphone company, Globe.  So I'm paying just around 60% of the usual monthly rate (or around 85% of my usual monthly bill).  That's a little leverage for emergency calls and texts I need to make.

I have roaming on my Globe phone with FREE incoming texts anytime, any day.  Mara texts me there when she's at locations without internet access.  It costs her just the same as when she texts me while I'm in the Philippines.

Then there is Chikka.  FREE outgoing texts to the Philippines, anytime, any day.  Though I think there's a daily limit of 20 or 25 outgoing texts per day.  And, the person you're texting has to reply to your Chikka text at least once.  (It would cost Mara P2.50 for texts to my Chikka account.)  Now, I can only access Chikka where there is internet access - so it's usually at the school, and usually only on weekdays and some weekend/holiday evenings.  Another catch is, sometimes the Chikka service acts up, and so I am not able to send FREE texts.  For emergency purposes, for example if my roaming Globe phone loses connection, Mara can text to my Chikka at a cost though.  Chikka also works as an internet messaging (IM, like YM) service, so Mara can send me FREE messages via Chikka.

Then there is Globe's Muzta service.

Basically if you're on roaming, you pay very expensive charges for outgoing texts (25 pesos per text?), outgoing calls (60 pesos per minute?), and incoming calls (60 pesos per minute?).  So Mara doesn't call me there, except again for emergency purposes.

If Mara instead needs to call me, she calls me on my Muzta instead.  Muzta is a "softphone" - you get a virtual mobile number as if you have a cellphone and as if you're in the Philippines.  The rates to and from Muzta cellphones are the same as those for Globe prepaid phones.  Muzta works like Skype for phone calls.  So it's basically computer software that uses the internet.  Now the problem again is, no internet, no Muzta.  No computer, no Muzta.  The good thing about this though is, it's FREE incoming calls (for me; regular rates for Mara) for as long as my computer is on, my Muzta software is running, and I have an internet connection.  I've had some problems with connecting to Muzta's servers, or making calls sometimes.  Also, if my Muzta is offline, I don't think I can receive texts from Mara even when I go back online already.

Of course, there's e-mail, there's Facebook, and so on.  They're not real-time though, but good enough.  We used to use Yahoo! Messenger, but Skype is just way better for video and voice calls over the internet.

By the way, there's also Jumblo which gives me practically the same rates (very slightly cheaper only) as Muzta for outgoing phone calls (more expensive for outgoing texts though).  The good thing about Jumblo is when you load up, you get FREE calls to certain countries.  Like, with Jumblo I get free calls to any phone in the US, Japan landlines (anywhere in Japan!), and a lot of other countries.  The bad thing though is, you don't have a true phone number, so no incoming calls for you.  You would need to pay extra to get your own phone number.

And, I also have a Japan-based phone, from Softbank.  So it's incoming calls actually from anywhere in the world, anytime, any day.  But it will cost Mara maybe 20 pesos per minute.

So in summary, here's how they compare, somewhat.

1. Mara and me both in the Philippines
incoming texts - Globe - FREE
outgoing texts - Globe - 1 peso per text
incoming calls - Globe - FREE
outgoing calls - Globe - 6.50 pesos per minute

2. Me in Japan, using roaming
incoming texts - Globe - FREE
outgoing texts - Globe - 25 pesos per text
incoming calls - Globe - 60 pesos per minute
outgoing calls - Globe - 60 pesos per minute

3. Me in Japan, using all cheap methods
incoming texts - Globe or Muzta - FREE
outgoing texts - Chikka - FREE
incoming calls - Muzta or Skype - FREE (6.50 pesos per minute for Mara to Muzta)
outgoing calls - Skype - FREE

4. Me in Japan, 2nd choice options
incoming texts - Chikka - FREE (2.50 peso per text for Mara)
outgoing texts - Muzta - 1 peso per text
incoming calls - Softbank - FREE (20 pesos per minute for Mara)
outgoing calls - Muzta or Jumblo - 6.50 pesos per minute

Unless otherwise indicated, the costs for Mara would be the same as in #1.  The #3 set certainly beats the roaming (#2)!  Even #4 is better than #2!

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