Calling Internationally with a Republic Phone

A question for some Republic members is, “How does one make international calls?” Republic supports calling and text messaging to U.S. and Canadian numbers only. This is Republic’s word on international service.

Meanwhile, there are third party options for communicating internationally at reasonable and, in some cases, no cost.

If those one wishes to communicate with are also using a smartphone, the most cost-effective (often free) option is use of an over the top (OTT app). Google Duo, Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and, if other parties to the conversation are using Apple devices, even FaceTime are all examples of OTT apps that may be used for communication with anyone anywhere - so long as both parties to the conversation have smartphones, an Internet connection and are willing to use the same app. OTT apps bypass traditional telephone systems.

If one needs to call actual international numbers, then a third party app capable of directly calling those numbers would be an appropriate choice. Google Voice is probably the best known. Skype, which unlike Google Voice can be used over the top, may also be used to directly call international numbers. Neither is free for calling international numbers but both are reasonably priced.

There are also a couple of lesser known services I like Rebtel and Localphone. Why lesser known services? Unlike Google Voice and Skype, which require one to use a separate phone number, Rebtel and Localphone allow for one’s Republic number to be sent as Caller ID. To those you’re calling internationally, the call will appear to be coming from your Republic phone. Rebtel and Localphone are generally price competitive with Google Voice and typically undercut Skype.



Rebtel

Rebtel is a fine option for international calling using a Republic phone. Rebtel is most cost effective when one chooses a subscription. Perhaps, Rebtel’s most attractive feature is its flat rate $10 per month (one may cancel at any time) Global Unlimited subscription for calling to 51 countries as this is written. If your call volume doesn’t warrant a subscription (unlimited or otherwise), you may want to read on as Localphone is probably a better option for you. Getting started with Rebtel is easy:

  1. Install Rebtel’s app.
  2. Tap Get Started.
  3. Grant requested permissions.
  4. Verify your Republic number.
  5. You’ll receive a code via text message. If necessary, enter that code, however, Rebtel’s app will likely automatically see it.
  6. Optionally, enter your email address. Otherwise, tap the back arrow, to the lower left.
  7. Grant any additional requested permissions.
  8. Happy Calling!

Rebtel’s app offers three ways to make international calls.

  1. Phone lines (Using this method (Rebtel’s app dials a local access number then bridges the call to the international number you wish to call. Essentially, this is how an international calling card works with Rebtel’s app automating the process. All one need do is dial the international number they wish to call or select a contact. This method works very well with Republic’s unlimited talk. No data (WiFi or cell) is required.)
  2. WiFi data
  3. Mobile (Cell) data

The default is for all three methods to be active and calls are made in the order of preference listed above. One may optionally change the order of preference and/or disable individual methods if they wish but doing so isn’t generally necessary. Nevertheless, if one wishes to do so:

  1. Tap Settings to the lower right.
  2. Tap the gear icon to the upper right.
  3. Tap Call setup.
  4. To change the order of preference, tap, hold and drag the method you wish to re-order.
  5. To disable a calling method(s), toggle it off.

Another useful setting is “Intercept International Calls”. This setting allows one to initiate international calls from their phone’s native Phone app. The options are:

  1. Ask
  2. Yes
  3. No

Ask (the default), presents the option to place an international call via Rebtel when initiating a call from the native Phone app. Yes, places any international call initiated from the native Phone app via Rebtel’s app without prompting. No, means what it says and won’t place an international call initiated from the native Phone app via Rebtel’s app. Since Republic phones don’t make international calls to numbers other than Canadian numbers, one probably doesn’t want to select this option.

Localphone

Localphone is also a fine option for making international calls from a Republic phone, particularly if one does not make enough international calls to effectively leverage one of Rebtel’s subscriptions or simply prefers a pay as you go option. Here’s how to get started by establishing an account with Localphone:

  1. Point your web browser of choice here.
  2. Click sign up upper right.
  3. Complete Localphone’s sign up form, then click Create a free account. Be certain to use your Republic phone number. Please note that while account creation is free, you will need to fund your account to make calls beyond the initial 5 minute test call offered.
  4. Once at your dashboard, click the Internet Phone tab.
  5. You’ll be asked to verify your Republic number. When done click Continue.

To make calls from their Republic phone using Localphone, one may use Localphone’s app or a third party SIP app. For purposes of this article, I’ll highlight setup of Localphone’s app and Zoiper (a popular third party SIP app).

Use the Localphone App

  1. Install Localphone’s app.
  2. Open Localphone’s app.
  3. Sign in with your newly created account credentials (email address and password).
  4. Grant requested permissions.
  5. Happy calling!

Use Zoiper

If you dissatisfied with Localphone’s app, Zoiper is a good alternative. You’ll still be able to use your Republic number as Caller ID and Zoiper also integrates with your phone’s Contacts or People app.

  1. Install Zoiper.
  2. Open Zoiper.
  3. Tap Agree & Continue.
  4. Enter the information for User, Server and Password per the table below. For the Username and Server, enter it as Username@Server:
Service Provider User Password Server
Localphone SIP ID SIP Password localphone.com
  1. Tap Create an account.
  2. Verify hostname or provider matches Server from the previously referenced table above.
  3. Tap Next.
  4. Tap Skip.
  5. Accept the recommended configuration by tapping Finish.

Additional Notes

As they are being placed through a third party service, international calls will not be logged in your Republic online call history. They will be logged on your phone and both Rebtel and Localphone provide online call history similar to Republic.

There are no issues storing international numbers in Android’s native Contacts or People app with the appropriate country code on a Republic phone.

8 Likes

I am using future-nine phone service.
Setup is trivial after you charge your account (paypal)
Scan the 2d barcode to install the sip client; in the client scan another 2dbarcode to setup account details.
I have added some dialing rules so that e.g. if it sees a number starting in 01, it’s a number in paris, france and it rewrites it as 33 1 x xx xx xx xx
It works whether at home (on wifi) or on the street (does voip over cellular network)
I do not have a phone number associated with that account, so cost is really only the minutes of call; land lines in France are 0.9 c per minute i think and cell lines are 3 or 4 cents per minute.
The only drawback is that the caller ID displayed on the receiving end can be misleading (hidden or some random place)

Hi @ngufra,

I also have an account with Future-Nine. I do not feature them in the blog because both CallWithUs and Localphone allow for sending one’s Republic number as Caller ID. There is no need for an additional phone number with those services either.

1 Like

@rolandh
Excellent information to extend the usability of RW’s phones for the community. The collaboration of @cbwahlstrom, @bocephous and @drm186 to provide confirmation on phones you didn’t have, is yet another reminder of the value of this community
Well done :southpawpoms:

7 Likes

@rolandh
Sincere thanks for sharing your knowledge and research so clearly (not ONLY on this topic…)!

Your instructions lead me directly through getting set up with a funded CallWithUs account, easy and entertaining.

The step of “integrating” the service on my Moto G5 Plus is proving more frustrating. Following listed steps for Alcatel, Motorola, Nexus and Pixel Phones seemed to work fine - but didn’t. Even after circling back to check CallWithUs advice for SIP configuration, which seems to say that the " Auth name (or Auth ID)" should also be set to Username (marked Optional on my Moto G5 Plus settings) - the option to use my CallWithUs account instead of Republic for an outgoing call would not show up. And my VoIP account page on CallWithUs continued to show my SIP as “Not Registered”.

Looking around on my handset found that the toggle switch under the Phone app settings for Calling Accounts kept getting turned Off after every time I flipped it On.

Your further advice to install CSipSimple got me a bit further, I can now actually place a call! Only, the person I call can hear me, but I cannot hear them. And I get TWO chances to choose between calling with Republic or with my CallWithUs SIP account, one from CSipSimple, and another from (looks like) my phone, appearing like your guide examples.

The CallWithUs Troubleshooter is not actually helpful for this. AND my CallWithUs VoIP account page still shows my SIP as “Not registered” although my account there also shows I have made several calls and used up a few cents of my balance (calling from Michigan to Ohio).

Can you please provide a bit more guidance before I head to Europe next week?

More thanks!

Hi @clint_s,

Thank you for the kind words!

I’ll do my best but please know I’ll be offline for a good part of the day (annoying real world things). :slightly_smiling_face:

It will seem counterintuitive but one’s phone doesn’t actually need to be registered with CallWithUs to make calls. The registration being referenced is SIP registration and SIP registration is mandatory only if one wishes to receive calls via CallWithUs (or other SIP provider). That’s a whole different conversation.

For now, I’d like to rake the integration piece out of the picture as the one-way audio you’re experiencing may be a separate issue. Would you mind trying calls via CallWithUs directly from CSipSimple bypassing the native Android Phone app? Do you still experience one-way audio on those calls? If so, would you also try on cell data or different WiFi network?

Thank you again, @rolandh for the fast reply! Too much real life in my way, too. Including getting ready to jump over the Atlantic.

I did just try CSipSimple directly via cell data instead of my home WiFi, and the audio worked both ways! So I infer there may be an issue in my WiFi connection? Will look for a chance to try a different WiFi in the (later) morning.

Thank you for this writeup, but I seem to be missing a step.

I have a Samsung Galaxy S8+.

I have installed the Galaxy SIP Accounts app and set up my VoIP provider. I can receive calls on my phone via my SIP account. I can see on my VoIP provider’s portal that my phone is registered.

However I cannot figure out how to make outbound calls through my SIP account. Within the Republic Wireless app, I have gone to [three dots} > settings > calling accounts, and I see the both the Republic and VoIP accounts, and under the calling account option, “always ask” is selected. Please see the attached screen shot.


However, when I attempt to make a call, I am not prompted for which account to use.

What would be nice is a way to route calls automatically based on the number. For example, phone numbers starting with 011 could be directed through the VoIP account while numbers following the North American format would be routed through Republic Wireless.

Rick

Hi @rickb.wotp7o,

If you tap All calling accounts; is your VoIP account toggled on as shown here:

Thank you for the quick response.

Yes, my VoIP account is toggled on. Please see the attached screen shot.

Hi @rickb.wotp7o,

Honestly, you’re setup looks good from here. I see you’re with VoIP.ms (good outfit). I’m fishing but are you certain the registration you see on their portal is the Android SIP client and not another device?

It would indeed, however, the Android dialer and SIP client simply aren’t that sophisticated. Nothing about this is Republic specific other than Republic providing our mobile service. All of this leverages native Android.

This is working for me on both a 2018 Samsung Galaxy J7 running Oreo and a Galaxy S6 running Nougat. If you’re using some other Samsung model, it may be something Samsung has done with the dialer (Phone app) on that model. Again, none of this is Republic specific. You might try CSipSimple rather than using the native Android SIP client.

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One work around is to use a wifi hotspot. I bought a Skyroam which cost me $8 per 24 hour period to be constantly connected to wifi. Not cheap, but it was worth it to me, and the simplest solution. I tried another phone with SIM cards in different countries and they either didn’t work, didn’t work properly, or socked me with huge hidden fees after I got the bill back home. All we want is a phone that works properly at a reasonable cost internationally, so we have switched to Google Fi.

Thank you so much for forwarding the information. Very detailed and user friendly. However, I would welcome if RW would venture out to include the international service since most other providers have them for a cost.
For now I will use the information provided utilizing another party.
It still didn’t answer my question, does it cost me in data usage if I were to receive international calls on my cell phone? Thank you in advance for your response.

1 Like

Incoming calls would not use cell data. Outbound calls using the methods described here would unless connected to WiFi while making those calls.

From the fine folks at CallWithUs, whom I highly recommend:

CallWithUs has always aimed to avoid working with telemarketers, as we disagree with their business on principle. Unfortunately, this has been difficult, as the majority of recent sign-ups have been from telemarketers, creating a lot of work for us in filtering them out. To help stem the tide of unwanted calls, we have temporarily disabled new sign-ups so that we can better focus on our existing, legitimate customers. Sign-ups will be reopened eventually, please check back in a year or two.

This is most unfortunate. CallWithUs is essentially a one-man operation but has been around for a long time with a well deserved excellent reputation in the VoIP community. I will update the original post as soon as possible.

3 posts were merged into an existing topic: Draft: Calling Internationally with a Republic Phone

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