When living abroad, keeping in touch with loved ones in Nigeria through calls and texts is a necessity, but could be challenging. The mobile operators in France do not offer free calls to Nigeria or any other African county with postpaid mobile phone plan and you will pay an additional amount if you call Nigeria with a postpaid plan (hors forfait). There are prepaid mobile phone services like Lebara that offer special plans to call Africa with attractive fees, but it becomes expensive on the long run, since you will need to buy recharge cards regularly to call.
When I arrived in France, I was spending so much on recharge cards to call home until I discovered DialNow thanks to a friend. DialNow is an online mobile service that you can use with your prepaid or postpaid mobile phone. This service does not offer you a SIM card like other mobile phone operators, it rather gives you a number that you add to the number of the person you want to call in Nigeria. It means that to call with Dialnow, you need to have a prepaid or postpaid mobile phone plan. I, for example, have a 2-hour postpaid monthly plan with Bouygues Telecom, which I use to call people and send texts in France. In addition to this, I often buy 10 euros DialNow credit to call Nigeria.
When I registered with DialNow, I was given a number (access number) and to call a Nigerian number, I use the access number with the Nigerian number I want to call. For instance, to dial the Nigerian number +2348011111111 on my phone, I will enter my access number+P(,)+000+the Nigerian number(with 234)+#; that is the format that is required. To save time, you can modify the numbers of the people you usually call according to the format and save them, so that you only dial when you need to call the numbers. For example, I may decide to save 1234567,000234811111111# for the Nigerian number +2348011111111. Note that this pattern is only needed when making calls on the phone.
I was very happy when I discovered DialNow because it saved me from spending so much on calls. The service is very cheap; 7 cents par minute for calls and 4 cents for text.
Another good thing about this service is that you can use it on your desktop or tablet. To make calls through DialNow on your desktop, download the DialNow application and log in with your account details (you should have created an account when you registered), click on the Home window and you find call button under it. One of the advantages of making calls through a desktop is that you only need to enter the number of the person you want to call (including the international code), +2348011111111 for example, and not the phone format I mentioned above. Another advantage of making calls through laptop instead of phone is that the duration will not count. If you have a 2-hour postpaid mobile plan and you make a 10-minute call with DialNow on your phone, 10 minutes will be subtracted from the 2 hours, but if it is on your computer, it will not be subtracted. You can also send texts through DialNow on your computer.
From my experience, I think it is better to use DialNow with postpaid mobile phone plans (abonnement) and not with prepaid mobile phone plans like Lebara, which takes your credit and will prevent you from using DialNow if you don’t have credit even if you have DialNow credit.
The drawback with this service is that sometimes when you dial a Nigerian number, a different number and not your mobile phone number will show on the receiver’s phone and the receiver will not know it is you. I don’t really know why, but I think it is because DialNow is serving as an intermediary between the caller and receiver.