The Canadian telephone system closely resembles the U.S. model. All operators (dial 0 from Canada to get one) speak English as well as French, and respond in the appropriate language as soon as callers speak to them.
There are two area codes in Alberta: 403 in the south and 780 in the north. Calgary and Edmonton require ten-digit dialing.
Pay phones in Alberta require 50¢ for a 3-minute local call. Directory information calls (dial tel. 411) are free of charge. Both local and long-distance calls usually cost more from hotels -- sometimes a lot more, so check. As in the U.S., paper directories come in White Pages (residential) and Yellow Pages (commercial).
To call Alberta from the U.S.: Calls between Canada and the U.S. do not require the use of country codes. Simply dial the 3-digital area code and seven-digit number.
To call Alberta from the U.K.: First dial the international access code 00 (from Australia, dial 0011). Follow that with the Canadian country code 1, then the area code, and the seven-digit number.
To call the U.S. from Alberta: Simply dial the three-digit area code and seven-digit number.
To call the U.K./Ireland/Australia/New Zealand from Alberta: First dial 011, then the country code (U.K. 44, Ireland 353, Australia 61, New Zealand 64), then the number.
Toll-free numbers: Phone numbers that begin with 800, 888, 877, and 866 are toll-free. That means they're free to call within Canada and from the U.S. You need to dial 1 first. Remember that some hotels will charge you for all phone calls you make, including toll-free ones.
Cellphones -- Phones from virtually all major American wireless providers, such as Verizon and T-Mobile, will function on one of the major Canadian networks (Telus, Rogers, or Bell). However, wireless charges will be very high for roaming.
If you prefer, once you arrive in Canada there are several options for temporary, pay-as-you-go phoning. Places like Best Buy and Future Shop -- big chain stores that are virtually everywhere -- sell pre-paid phones starting at C$50 (plus airtime). Virgin Mobile is your best bet, with no activation charge and a C$10 card that gets you about 40 minutes.
CellularAbroad (www.cellularabroad.com/canada) will rent you a cell phone in Canada starting at C$29 for 7 days, plus airtime at 38¢ (Canadian) a minute.
Hey, Google, Did You Get My Text Message? -- It's bound to happen: The day you leave this guidebook back at the hotel for an unencumbered stroll through Banff, you'll forget the address of the lunch spot you had earmarked. If you're traveling with a mobile device, send a text message to tel. 46645 (GOOGL) for a lightning-fast response. For instance, type "Banff springs, Banff" and within 10 seconds you'll receive a text message with the address and phone number. This nifty trick works in a range of search categories: Look up weather ("weather philadelphia"), language translations ("translate goodbye in spanish"), currency conversions ("10 usd in pounds"), movie times ("harry potter 60605"), and more. If your search results are off, be more specific ("the abbey gay bar west hollywood"). For more tips and search options, see www.google.com/intl/en_us/mobile/sms/. Regular text message charges apply.
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 (but fees apply if they don't). Check the websites for details.
Internet & E-Mail
With Your Own Computer -- Many hotels have wireless Internet available to guests; Starbucks locations throughout Alberta now offer wireless access through the Bell network for a fee.
Hundreds of cafes in Calgary and Edmonton offer wireless service for free; consult www.jiwire.com; its Hotspot Finder is the world's largest directory of public wireless hotspots. Its Alberta listings top out at nearly 400.
Without Your Own Computer -- Most major airports have Internet kiosks that provide basic Web access for a per-minute fee that's usually higher than cybercafe prices. Check out copy shops like Kinko's (FedEx Kinkos), which offers computer stations with fully loaded software (as well as Wi-Fi).
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.