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Telephones

The country code for the Czech Republic is 420. To dial the Czech Republic from abroad, dial the international access code (011 in the United States) plus 420 and then the unique nine-digit local number (there are no area or city codes in the Czech Republic). Once you are here, to dial any number anywhere in the Czech Republic, simply dial the nine-digit number.

To make a direct international call from the Czech Republic, dial 00 plus the country code of the country you are calling and then the area code and number. The country code for the U.S. and Canada is 1; Great Britain, 44; Ireland, 353; Australia, 61; and New Zealand, 64. To dial a number in New York from Prague, for example, you would dial 001-212-xxx-xxxx.

For directory inquiries regarding phone numbers within the Czech Republic, dial tel. 1180. For information about services and rates abroad, call tel. 1181.

Working public phones are few and far between thanks to the rapid growth of mobile phones. A few public telephones around town still accept coins, but they are being slowly phased out. Most public phones require a prepaid magnetic stripe calling card that you can buy from tobacco and magazine kiosks. The cards are available for 200Kc to 500Kc worth of credit. Simply insert the card, listen for the dial tone, and dial. You can use pay phones with prepaid cards to dial abroad.

Long-distance phone charges are higher in the Czech Republic than they are in the United States, and hotels usually add their own surcharge, sometimes as hefty as 100% to 200%, of which you may be unaware until you're presented with the bill. Ask before placing a call from a hotel.

Even if you're not calling person-to-person, collect calls are charged with the hotel fees, making them pricey, too. Charging a long-distance call to your phone credit card from a public telephone is often the most economical way to phone home.

A fast, convenient way to call the United States from Europe is via services like AT&T USA Direct. This bypasses the foreign operator and automatically links you to an operator with your long-distance carrier in your home country. The access number in the Czech Republic for AT&T USA Direct is tel. 00-800-222-55288. For MCI CALL USA, dial tel. 00-800-001-112. Canadians can connect with Canada Direct at tel. 00-800-001-115. From a pay phone in the Czech Republic, your local phone card will be debited only for a local call.

Other ways to beat high-cost long-distance calls from your hotel include calling from the main post office or over the Internet at many Internet cafes.

Telephone books are printed in two editions: A separate set of White Pages contains alphabetical lists of household phone owners, while the Yellow Pages list businesses according to trade, with an alphabetical listing in more White Pages upfront. The Yellow Pages include an English-language index.

Cellphones

Czech cellphones operate on a GSM band of 900/1800MHz. This is the same standard in use throughout Europe but different from the one used in the U.S. American cellphones will work here provided they are triband phones (not all phones are triband) and that you've contacted your service provider to allow for international roaming. Keep calls to a minimum, however, since roaming charges can be steep.

U.K. cellphones should work without any problem provided that you've contacted your service provider to activate international roaming (the same precautions about steep roaming charges apply to U.K. cellphones).

One way of avoiding international roaming charges is to purchase a pay-as-you-go SIM card for your cellphone and a prepaid calling card. This provides you with a local number and allows you to make calls and send text messages at local rates. All of the major local telephone operators: Telefónica 02 (www.cz.02.com); T-mobile (www1.t-mobile.cz); and Vodafone (www.vodafone.cz), offer pay-as-you-go SIM cards and telephone number services.

For iPhone travelers, at press time, Telefónica 02 was the only Czech operator offering 3G network services, though the other major providers had plans to launch 3G networks of their own. Wi-Fi networks are plentiful and easy to find for surfing the net with the iPhone, though keep in mind that downloading data over a 3G network outside of your payment plan can be prohibitively expensive. To be safe, switch off data roaming the moment you arrive.

Voice-Over Internet Protocol (VoIP)

If you have Web access while traveling, consider a broadband-based telephone service (in technical terms, Voice over Internet protocol, or VoIP) such as Skype (www.skype.com) or Vonage (www.vonage.com), which allow you to make free international calls from your laptop or in a cybercafe. Neither service requires the people you're calling to also have that service (though there are fees if they do not). Check the websites for details

Internet & E-Mail

With Your Own Computer --- Nearly every hotel from a three-star property on up will offer some kind of in-room Internet access, though many hotels will charge for the service. Most often these days this will be a wireless connection, though occasionally it will be a LAN (dataport) connection. If the hotel offers LAN connections, they will usually also loan out Ethernet cables for guests to use during their stay. Check with the reception desk.

If having a good in-room Internet connection is important to you, make this clear when you register for your room. Wi-Fi signal strength drops off considerably the further your room is from the router. Though the hotel may generally offer Wi-Fi, some rooms may not be close enough to make this practical.

Even if your hotel doesn't offer in-room Internet, there are usually lots of options for logging on with your own laptop. A surprising number of cafes, restaurants, and bars now offer free Wi-Fi to customers with a purchase. You may have to finagle a bit with the password, but you'll normally be able to get it to work.

To locate Wi-Fi hotspots in the Czech Republic (and around the world), go to www.jiwire.com; its Hotspot Finder holds the world's largest directory of public wireless hotspots.

Without Your Own Computer -- Many hotels will have a public computer or a business center for guests to use. If your hotel doesn't and you just want to check e-mail, it's sometimes worth asking at the reception desk whether you can use the hotel's computer for a couple of minutes. The answer is likely to be yes if it's a small place and the reception desk is not busy at the time.

Prague has several centrally located Internet cafes and your hotel receptionist will certainly know the location of the nearest one. Surfing, however, can be relatively expensive. Rates average around 1Kc to 2Kc a minute.

The Globe Bookstore and Coffeeshop at Pstrossova 6, Prague 1, Nové Mesto (tel. 224 934 203; www.globebookstore.cz) is one of the better deals in town; it's both a free Wi-Fi hotspot and offers surfing on its own computers for 1Kc per minute. Bohemia Bagel at Masná 2, Prague 1, Staré Mesto (tel. 224-812-560; www.bohemiabagel.cz) charges 2Kc per minute for surfing, and also offers low-cost phone calls. Spika at Dlázdená 4, Prague 1, Nové Mesto (tel. 224-211-521; http://netcafe.spika.cz) is open Monday to Friday 8am to midnight, and Saturday and Sunday 10am to 11pm. They charge 20Kc for 15 minutes and offer cheap, Internet-based international phone calls.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.