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London - Communications (Telephone, Post, Internet, TV)


British Telecom (BT) is the major provider of landline telephone services in London and the rest of the U.K. BT also provides mobile and broadband internet services. Information on how to place an order for a new or additional phone line or for broadband services can be found on their web site: www.bt.com.

Major mobile phone providers include O2 (www.o2.co.uk), Orange (www.orange.co.uk), T-Mobile (www.t-mobile.co.uk), and Vodaphone (www.vodaphone.co.uk). Each of these companies offers mobile phone services on contract or on a “pay as you go” basis, as well as a variety of broadband and mobile broadband options.

Many expats use Skype or Vonage as a way of keeping in touch with family and friends back home. Both Skype and Vonage are internet-based phone services that offer free or cheap calls. With Skype, calls between users are free. Users can also place cheap calls to non-users using a computer or a Skype phone. Video conferences and live chats are also possible through Skype. More information about Skype, including the program download, can be found on the official web site: www.skype.com. Vonage requires the use of a touch-tone phone and a Vonage phone adapter. Users must also have a U.S. or Puerto Rican billing address to use this service. Vonage charges a monthly fee, while Skype allows users to “pay as you go.” More information about Vonage's services can be found at www.vonage.com.

There are dozens of companies that offer broadband internet services, either bundled with home or mobile phone services or on their own. A useful site for finding the different companies that are available within a certain area and the prices of each is www.uswitch.com.

If you own a television in the U.K., you must purchase a T.V. license. If you are living alone or are in single family accommodation, you will only need one TV license to cover all of the televisions in the flat/house. If you are sharing a flat or a house, each person will need to purchase their own individual TV license. TV licenses are good for one year. Information about TV licensing, including up-to-date costs, can be found at www.tvlicensing.co.uk. A TV license includes several “freeview” channels, including all of the BBC channels. Sky Digital TV offers a wider range of channels and a variety of other multimedia options and services. Information about their products and services, including connection fees, monthly charges, and TV listings, can be found at www.sky.com.

Along with red telephone boxes, black cabs, and double decker buses, London's red post boxes (mail boxes) are one of the city's most iconic symbols. Post boxes are located throughout the city, with daily collection times clearly posted on the front. Stamps can be purchased from just about any supermarket or newsagent. For information about mailing letters or packages overseas, visit one of London's many local post offices (a list of locations can be found at www.postoffice.co.uk under “Branch Locator”) or the Royal Mail's official web site: www.royalmail.com. Since post offices are privately owned and run, exact opening hours may vary, but most are open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 or 1:00 p.m. on Saturday.


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