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There are many ways to stay informed and connected with family and friends abroad and in the United States.

Phone Services

Phone Service via Internet

A cheap, simple, and popular way of contacting people is through computer or smartphone applications (“apps”) that use Wi-Fi/internet connections to make calls. While many of these apps are free (e.g., WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook Messsenger, etc.), they require the receiver to have the app and an internet connection.

If you need to make calls to individuals without internet access, some services allow you use Wi-Fi to call through cell towers. Skype is an online tool that allows you to make these calls to phones and other users for a low rate per minute or subscription fee. Providers like Vonage use a regular telephones with an existing internet connection.

Mobile Phones

If you plan to make regular calls or use cellular data without an internet connection, consider finding a mobile or cell phone plan that works for you.

Activating a cell phone service plan in the US is not always easy, especially without a US social security number or during short visits (since most plans require a minimum one-year contract). But increasingly, companies offer contracts without a minimum time commitment or “pay-as-you-go” plans.

If you plan to call internationally, ask about additional charges or consider using a pre-paid calling card.

See our mobile phone providers page for more details.

Pre-paid Phone Cards

A pre-paid calling card allows you to place your call by dialing a toll-free access number in the United States, and then entering your account information.

Rates are usually charged by the minute and vary based on the destination of the call.

Learn more about calling cards at the website.

Computers and Internet Access

On-Campus Internet Access

University IT assists all students and employees at the University of Rochester with their computer and technical needs while on our campuses. Services include:

  • Obtaining your Net ID
  • Using a University email account
  • Accessing wireless internet on campus
  • Setting up campus telephone services

Activate your Net ID as soon as possible, even before you arrive, if you can. Your Net ID gives you access to the internet network and other information systems at Rochester.

Off-Campus Internet Access

If you are living off campus or in apartment-style graduate housing, you will likely need to pay for internet access through an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Types of plans and their costs vary based on your individual needs.

Common service providers in our area include Frontier and Time Warner[A3] .

Other Communications

Television and Cable

Local network television stations are available in the United States over the air free of charge. However, you need a digital converter box to receive the signals on your television. Digital converter boxes are available at retail stores (approximate cost: $50) or through cable, internet, or phone ‘bundles.’

Another option is to buy TV services through a cable or satellite company. These services offer extended and specialty channels in addition to the standard channels available over the airwaves. Companies have various package deals and often offer special rates for new customers.

Before you sign a contract, make sure you understand the terms of agreement, what you expect to receive, and whether your monthly fees will change over time.

Cable television in our area is available through Time Warner. Area satellite companies include DIRECTV and Dish Network.

News Media

The local newspaper is the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

Many news media outlets post information online, but printed newspapers—including national and foreign publications—can be delivered locally for a subscription fee.

City Newspaper is a free weekly alternative newspaper available online and at many local restaurants, stores, and public events.[A4]