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Prague Travel Guide

Communications

Internet

Internet is widely available at hotels, and many provide Wi-Fi. Cafés with Internet stations are also all over Prague, and you'll find you can check your email everywhere from the local bookstore to the Laundromat. Many Internet cafés allow Skype calling internationally.

Phones

The good news is that you can now make a direct-dial telephone call from virtually any point on earth. The bad news? You can't always do so cheaply. 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 land lines; as expensive as mobile phone calls can be, they are still usually a much cheaper option than calling from your hotel.

The country code for the Czech Republic is 420. To call the Czech Republic from outside the country, dial the international access prefix, then "420," and then the nine-digit Czech number. To call from the United States, for example, dial "011–420–xxx–xxx–xxx."

Calling Within the Czech Republic

Most people in Prague have mobile phones, but a reasonable phone booth network still exists. Different pay phones accept Czech coins, euro coins, chip-based cards, or a combination of the three. Some phones allow for sending (but not receiving) SMSs and email. The special chip-based phone cards called Trick are available for Kč 180 and up at O2 service stores, some post offices, and newsstands. In almost all phones, instructions are written in English. A domestic call is 15 Kč per impulse from a coin-operated phone. An impulse ranges from one minute to three minutes. International calls start at 15 Kč for 18 or 38 seconds, depending on the country called. International calling cards, usable on any phone, are much cheaper. Calls from a pay phone to a mobile phone can be quite expensive. The dial tone is a series of alternating short and long buzzes.

You can reach an English-speaking operator from one of the major long-distance services on a toll-free number listed in the instructions on the public phone. The operator will connect your collect or credit-card call at the carrier's standard rates. In Prague many phone booths allow direct international dialing.

There are no regional or area codes in the Czech Republic. Numbers that start with the first three digits running from 601 to 777, however, are mobile phones and the charge may be correspondingly higher. When calling a Czech number from within the Czech Republic, do not use the country code or any prefixes; simply dial the nine-digit number.

Calling Outside the Czech Republic

When dialing out of the country, the country code is 1 for the United States and Canada. To dial overseas directly, first dial 00 and then the country code of the country you are calling. A call to the United States or Canada, for example, would begin 00-1, followed by the U.S. or Canadian area code and number.

You can also ask the receptionist at your hotel to put the call through for you. In the latter instance, the surcharges and rates will probably be very high.

Access Codes

AT&T (00/800–222–55288.)

BT Direct (0/800–890–042.)

CanadaDirect (800–001–115.)

Other Contacts

International Directory Assistance (1181.)

Calling Cards

Newsstands carry cards with low rates, such as SmartCall, which starts at 150 Kč. These cards allow international calls for as little as 4 Kč per minute.

Mobile Phones

If you have a multiband phone (some countries use different frequencies than what's used in the United States) and your service provider uses the world-standard GSM network (as do T-Mobile, Cingular, and Verizon), you can probably use your phone abroad. Roaming fees can be steep, however: 99¢ a minute is considered reasonable. And overseas you normally pay the toll charges for incoming calls. It's almost always cheaper to send a text message than to make a call, since text messages have a very low set fee (often less than 5¢).

If you just want to make local calls, consider buying a new SIM card (note that your provider may have to unlock your phone for you to use a different SIM card) and a prepaid service plan in the destination. You'll then have a local number and can make local calls at local rates. If your trip is extensive, you could also simply buy a new cell phone in your destination, as the initial cost will be offset over time.

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.

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. AAA members often receive discounts. 888/988–4777. www.planetfone.com.

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