Telephones

Like hotels around the world, the surcharges on long-distance and local calls can be astronomical.  You are often charged for making a toll-free or phone card call.  You’re better off using a US mobile phone (cellphone) or a public pay phone.  Some hotels are now charging an additional “resort fee” to the cost of the room, which is supposed to cover local calls (as well as using the pool and other amenities).  The fee can range from $1 (motel style) to $15 per room per day.

Many convenience stores and supermarkets sell prepaid calling cards in denominations of up to $50; for international visitors, these can be the least expensive way to call the folks back home.  Many public pay phones at airports now accept American Express, MasterCard and Visa credit cards.  Local calls made from pay phones cost from 25-50 cents.

Most long-distance and international calls can be dialled directly from any phone.  For calls within the United States and to Canada, dial 1 followed by the area code and the seven-digit number.  For other international calls, dial 011 followed by the country code, city code and the number you are dialling.

To call an Australian landline number from the US, dial 011 61 city code without the 0, and the number.  For example, 011 61 2 9250 0000 (for a Sydney number).

To call an Australian mobile number from the US, dial +61 then the mobile number without the 0 that the mobile number begins with.  For example, +61 414 777 888.

Calls to area codes 800, 888, 877 and 866 are toll-free.  However, calls to area codes 700 and 900 (chat lines, bulletin boards, dating services and so on) can be expensive – usually a charge of 95 cents to $3 or more per minute, and they sometimes have minimum charges that can run as high as $15 or more.

For reversed-charge or collect calls, and for person-to-person calls, dial the number 0 and then the area code and number; an operator will come on the line, and you should specify whether you are calling collect, person-to-person, or both.  If your operator-assisted call is international, as for the overseas operator.

For local directory assistance (information) diall 411; for long-distance information, dial 1, and then the appropriate area code and 555-1212.

Mobile Phones

The US has very fragmented mobile phone (cellphone) system.  Most mobile phones will work in major cities, but if you head out to rural areas the reception is weak.  If you need to stay in touch at a destination where you know your phone won’t work, rent a phone that does work from InTouch US 800-872-7626 or www.intouchglobal.com or a rental location, but beware you will pay $1 a minute or more for air time.

If you are bringing your mobile from Australia, your phone will probably work for most of Las Vegas but not in rural areas.  Make sure you set up global roaming with your home service provider before you leave Australia and do so up to a week before you depart because some of them are very slow to connect you.  Beware massive charges apply and you not only pay for your calls but for others to call you.

A great alternative is to purchase a mobile phone from a local Las Vegas convenience shop.  They cost roughtly about $25 and calls will set you back approximately 10 cents a minute.  A bargain and great for local outgoing calls or if you need to be reached by locals.

Internet and Email

Most resort hotels in Las Vegas offer wireless access, but for a substantial daily fee (around $17).  Some chain hotels offer free Wi-Fi in public areas, while others still offer high-speed access.  In Las Vegas, you can find free Wi-Fi at most stand-alone McDonald’s, Starbucks and in the Fashion Show Mall.  To find additional public Wi-Fi hot spots, go to www.jiwire.com; its Wi-Fi Finder holds the world’s largest directory of public wireless hot spots.

For dial-up access, most business-class hotels in the US offer dataports for laptop modems.

Don’t forget to bring the right power and phone adapter, a spare phone cord, and a spare Ethernet network cable – or find out whether your hotel supplies them to guests.

Some Vegas hotels still offer Internet service through the television, with a wireless keyboard (provided).  This is on average, $15 per day.

There are no easily accessible cybercafes in Las Vegas.  Check out copy shops such as FedEx Kinkos, which offers computer stations with fully loaded software (as well as Wi-Fi).

McCarran airport has internet kiosks that provide basic Web access for a per-minute fee at a price.