How to communicate with people in Vitebsk (and the rest of Belarus)
This page will try to explain most common methods of communication available in Vitebsk.
Sometimes communication with Vitebsk is not simple and reliable thing, so I try to share
my experience how did I do it.
Method of communication you choose is dependent on several things:
1. How often you need to use it
2. What is amount and nature (electronic or paper) of information
you want to exchange
3. How fast you need to do it and how reliable delivery needs to be
From my experience I can tell you following facts.
- If you need to send paper materials Regular Mail works differently in
different directions. Regular mail works in 97% cases from Belarus (goes 1 - 2 weeks) and
in only 50% to Belarus (goes 3 weeks - 6 months).
- Use EMS (Express Mail Service) If you need to send some important
paper documents fast to Belarus. It casts $12-$30, and takes about one week.
It is very reliable and even can be delivered directly to the door of person it is sent to
and can be handed to him/her. There is no real reason to use EMS to send anything from
Belarus. Regular mail is same reliable and about the same speed and casts much less.
You can try registered mail if you still not sure, but I really find no difference.
- Telephone is not bad but pretty expensive $3-$5 a minute from Belarus, and
$0.7 a minute to Belarus. From US. $0.7 is the cheapest rate I have seen. It
is a discount rate for which you need to subscribe to the special program with long
distance telephone carrier such as MCI, AT&T or Sprint. Regular rate is $1.37 a
minute. There are many small companies offering discount price telephone service to
Belarus from US, but I am a bit skeptical about it. Be prepared to have poor quality of
signal. In most cases (70%) level of noise on the line is very high even using AT&T
True Voice. (Try radial again if you can). The most irritating thing I find when you
are talking over the phone with Belarus is that you will not get full-duplex (both people
can talk at the same time) telephone connection with Belarus works only in half-duplex
mode. That means that you will get quality class to walky-talky. Once one person
started to talk he cannot hear anything from an other end.
Message for telephone service providers: I will really appreciate if you
provide me with a proof of quality and competitiveness of your service comparing to major
long distance carriers, so I can be less skeptical about your service and could recommend
it to be used by other people.
- You can use Fax in some cases to send information to Belarus. But it could
be problematic. First of all in order to have reliable fax exchange you need to have a Fax
machine which is 24 hour switched on and ready to receive a fax. It means it requires
dedicated telephone line. Dedicated telephone line in Belarus is a luxury. In most
places it is impossible to get at all. To send a fax from Belarus is expensive same
as a make phone call $3-$5 a minute. Because of quality of Belarussian telephone lines Fax
also can be delivered garbled and hard to read. In you do not have immediate two-way
communication to confirm that Fax you just sent was received in a good shape. There are
also public faxes in some major post offices. They can also receive faxes and notify
receiver by phone. But cost of this service is not cheap. Although it might be very useful
because it does not require for person you going to send message to own any additional
equipment and have it set up on the other end in Belarus.
- The best way (My personal recommendation Cheapest, fastest and most
reliable) If you are committed to a long term communication with Belarus, so far is E-mail.
In some cases I managed to send E-mail and relieve replay back within 15 minutes, but this
method requires a computer set up for E-mail (Internet) it means you need to subscribe to
service provider on both ends. (If you are able to read this you can assume that you have
enough setup on your end. So the only thing left is to make appropriate setup on the other
end) This method is good because it is not required to keep a computer on all the time,
comparing to a fax machine. E-mail (Internet) is no a problem to set it up in US.
$800-$1500 for computer + $15 a month for Internet Service provider subscription. Internet
Service Providers are a bit more expensive in Belarus, but they are real and it is
possible to get subscription for about $25 a month. It is still less expensive way
compare it with a fax, letter or telephone for amount information you can transmit in the
both directions using this way.
- And the last and the most promising but still experimental way is a Internet
Telephony (InternetPhone). This is the most exiting way of
communication. With a little bit of experience (choosing right set of settings for the
best quality) you can achieve voice connection better then regular telephone, plus
E-mail virtually for free. All it requires is Computer with Sound Card and microphone, and
InternetPhone Software on both sides. There are several programs available for Internet
Telephony. My personal preference is IPhone
from Vocaltec. You can download this program for
free trail, which you can extend you if you wish have some extra hassle or simply bye it
two licenses cost around $45. It also needs PPP (TCP/IP or Internet) connection on both
sides and then you can enjoy hours of talks paying nothing extra. I tried it several times
myself with my friends in Minsk. Every time we spent 2-4 hours talking. Internet
connection costs $15 a month in US and about $50 a month in Belarus. That is pretty much
all I know about communication with Belarus.
Message for people who might be interested in setting up Internet Connection with
Vitebsk. Currently I am looking into this opportunity and I know that it is
possible to do. But I do not have enough resources on the Vitebsk side. So I am looking
for somebody who is ready to make a long-term support to me on the Vitebsk side. I
am ready to share all my technical experience in this area.
You can E-mail to me firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or
if you have anything to add to this page.
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