Communications

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Communications

Internet

Paid Internet access of some kind is available in almost every hotel, though you may sometimes have access to only one slow and old terminal in the lobby, maybe with a Spanish keyboard. Many all-inclusives have concessionaires who operate a bank of computers in either a separate room or in the back of one of the shops, but you will likely pay as much as $5 for only 30 minutes.

Wi-Fi is becoming more prevalent in the better hotels, particularly in Santo Domingo; it's usually free, but generally available only in the lobby and some public areas rather than in your room. Internet cafés are common in almost all the major resort areas.

Contacts

Cybercafes. Cybercafes lists over 4,000 Internet cafés worldwide. www.cybercafes.com.

Phones

Calling from a hotel is almost always the most expensive option; hotels usually add huge surcharges to all calls, particularly international ones. In some countries you can phone from call centers or even the post office. Calling cards usually keep costs to a minimum, but only if you purchase them locally. And then there are mobile phones, which are sometimes more prevalent—particularly in the developing world—than landlines; as expensive as mobile phone calls can be, they are still usually a much cheaper option than calling from your hotel.

To call the Dominican Republic from the United States, dial 1, then the area code 809 and the local number.

Calling Within the Dominican Republic

To make a local call, you must dial 809 plus the seven-digit number (dial 1-809 or 1-829 if you're calling a cell phone). Directory assistance is 1411. Rates for calling within the Dominican Republic vary by the hotel, but local calls are sometimes only a few pesos per minute. Sometimes calling at a hotel is cheaper than it would be to use a Dominican cell phone, which is usually charged by the minute.

Calling Outside the Dominican Republic

From the Dominican Republic, just dial 1 plus the area code and number to call the United States or Canada. Some, but not all, U.S. toll-free numbers can be dialed from the Dominican Republic by dialing 1-880.

Many savvy travelers these days now use Skype, the international calling program that you can download directly to your laptop. It's a fraction of the cost of traditional options. If you don't want to lug your notebook, many of the better Internet centers and cafés have Skype on their computers and have headphones, too.

Calling Cards

Phone cards, which are sold at gift shops and supermarkets, can usually give you considerable savings if you're calling the United States or Canada—a call for which a hotel might charge as much as $1 to $2 a minute. Codetel Comminicards can be used in most hotels (but check to see whether you will incur a connection or other fee). Codetel calling centers have equally good rates to the States, about 35¢ a minute, but you'll have to pay cash.

You don't hear of that many visitors using calling cards from U.S. companies in the Dominican Republic. That's because many hotels block these numbers to force you to go through the international telephone operator. Some hotels charge a connection fee that might range from $1.75 to a ludicrous $10 (be sure to verify with your resort whether there is a connection fee before using a calling card). Calling cards can be used successfully from pay phones, when you can find one that works (such as in the airport).

Mobile Phones

If you have a quad-band GSM phone, you can probably use your phone in the Dominican Republic, though roaming fees can be steep (and you pay international toll charges for incoming calls).

If you travel internationally frequently, save one of your old mobile phones or buy a cheap one on the Internet; ask your cell phone company to unlock it for you, and take it with you as a travel phone, buying a new SIM card with pay-as-you-go service in each destination.

Orange and CLARO (the mobile communication division of Codetel) are the two major cell-phone companies. If you have a tri-band GSM phone, it will probably work on the island. Mobile phones in the Dominican Republic operate at 1900 MHZ frequency, the North American standard.

If you're spending more than a week or two in the Dominican Republic, you can also get a local phone. You cannot rent from Orange, but you can from CLARO; however, it's more economical to buy a phone for less than $50 and prepaid phone cards of various denominations for airtime. These are sold at pharmacies, supermarkets, and colmados (small local grocery stores.) You can then use the Dominican phone to call locally or long distance within the country. Or you could ask your provider to unlock your own phone and simply buy a local SIM card in the D.R.

Contacts

Cellular Abroad. Cellular Abroad rents and sells GSM phones and sells SIM cards that work in many countries. 800/287–5072. www.cellularabroad.com.

Mobal. Mobal rents mobiles and sells GSM phones (starting at $49) that will operate in 140 countries. Per-call rates vary throughout the world. 888/888–9162. www.mobalrental.com.

Planet Fone. Planet Fone rents cell phones, but the per-minute rates are expensive. 888/988–4777. www.planetfone.com.

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