By-the-minute cards are often the least expensive way to call home for international visitors. They are sold in grocery stores and convenience stores. Local calls made from public pay phones usually cost 25¢, but in Alaska, you usually can't find one. The dominant phone company is trying to do away with them. Most long-distance and international calls can be dialed 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 number you are calling. Calls to area codes 800, 888, 877, and 866 are toll-free but won't work from outside the U.S. and Canada, and occasionally won't work from outside Alaska. For local directory assistance ("information"), dial 411; for long-distance information, dial 1, then the appropriate area code and 555-1212.
The least expensive way to call internationally is by Skype.com and other voice-over-Internet services, which work anywhere you have your computer and a broadband connection, but connection speed is spotty in places.
Pretty much every town that can be reached by road or ferry has cellular voice coverage, as well as some of the paved highways. That means the great majority of the people are covered and the great majority of the land is not. The largest provider is an Alaska company called ACS, which posts maps of its coverage area at www.acsalaska.com (click on "Wireless").
Using the Internet on the Road
If you decide to bring your laptop, you'll find that many hotels and even B&Bs have wireless Internet access for guests, usually for free, and there are numerous other free hotspots all over the state. If you leave the computer at home, you can stop in at an Internet cafe or the public library when you want to log on. Alaskans are the most Internet-connected population in the country, and there is access even in tiny villages where people live largely by hunting and gathering, so you can always count on finding a way of getting online with a little effort. Coverage for wireless Internet technology, such as your BlackBerry or iPhone, is not universal, but the devices should work in the larger towns. Voice cellular coverage has spread to smaller communities, but even that remains spotty or nonexistent beyond city limits. Check on roaming with your own provider.
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.