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Telephones

Calls to Iceland from overseas require the country code prefix, which is 354. All phone numbers within Iceland are seven digits. Numbers beginning with 6 and 8 are reserved for mobile phones. No calls are "long distance" within Iceland, and you don't need to dial the prefix.

To call Iceland: Dial the international access code (011 from the U.S.; 00 from the U.K., Ireland, or New Zealand; or 0011 from Australia), then 354 and the seven-digit number.

To make international calls from Iceland: Dial 00, then the country code (U.S. or Canada 1, U.K. 44, Ireland 353, Australia 61, New Zealand 64), then the area code and number. Rates do not vary by time of day.

For directory assistance from within Iceland: For numbers inside Iceland, dial tel. 118; to find numbers in all other countries, dial tel. 114. For operator assistance within Iceland: Dial tel. 115. Icelandic phone books are found beside public phones and list residents by their first name and profession.

An online Icelandic telephone directory can be found at www.simaskra.is. The site is only in Icelandic, but is still easy to use. Simply enter the name of the person or business in the search box and hit leita (find). If your keyboard isn't equipped for Icelandic letters, click "Íslenskir stafir" to access a row of special characters.

Toll-free numbers: Icelandic numbers beginning with 800 are toll free, but calling a 1-800 number in the U.S. counts as an overseas call.

Collect calls: For calls to the United States, call tel. 533-5010. For Canada, dial tel. 800-9010.

Long-distance Access Numbers: AT&T/Cingular: tel. 800/2225-5288; MCI: tel. 800-9002; Sprint: tel. 800-9003.

Public phones: Coin- and card-operated public phones can be hard to find, but post offices are a good bet. Using a public phone for local calls is usually cheaper than calling from a hotel. Charges for calls within Iceland vary according to time of day. Phone cards are easily found at post offices, gas stations, and markets. The smallest denomination is 500kr ($8/£4). Increasingly, public phones also accept credit cards.

International calling cards are widely available at gas stations and convenience stores across Iceland. These cards usually provide better rates than calls made from hotels or directly from public phones.

Rechargeable online phone cards: Ekit (www.ekit.com) offers rechargeable phone cards with good rates and a toll-free access number in Iceland (tel. 800-8700). Rates to the U.S. are currently 20¢ per minute, plus a 59¢ service charge per successful call. Rates to the U.K. are 9p to 45p per minute depending where you call, or 67p to a cellphone, plus a 29p service fee per successful call.

Cellphones (Mobile Phones) -- Iceland has the world's highest per capita number of mobile phones, and coverage is reliable in most populated areas. The "Ring Road" circling Iceland is entirely covered.

The three letters that define much of the world's wireless capabilities are GSM. In the U.S., T-Mobile, AT&T Wireless, and Cingular use this quasi-universal system; in Canada, Microcell and some Rogers customers are GSM, and all Europeans and most Australians use GSM.

GSM phones function with a removable plastic SIM card. Many phones, especially in the U.S., are not "multiband" (synonymous with "tri-band" or "quad-band") and will not work in Iceland. Even if your cellphone uses GSM, and you have a multiband phone (such as many Sony Ericsson, Motorola, or Samsung models), the company you're contracted to has probably "locked" your phone. In this case, you cannot simply buy an Icelandic SIM card, insert it into your phone, and start making calls. Those with multiband phones can call their wireless operator and ask for "international roaming" to be activated on their existing account. This option is usually expensive, however: Per-minute charges are often $1 to $1.50. If you plan on using a cellphone in Iceland, you may well want to buy a prepaid GSM plan after you arrive, and either buy a phone -- new phones in Iceland start around 5,000kr ($80/£40) -- or bring a rented one from home.

North Americans can rent a phone before leaving home from InTouch USA (tel. 800/872-7626; www.intouchglobal.com) or RoadPost (tel. 888/290-1606 or 905/272-5665; www.roadpost.com). InTouch will also, for free, advise you on whether your existing phone will work in Iceland; simply call tel. 703/222-7161 between 9am and 4pm EST, or go to http://intouchglobal.com/travel.htm.

Pre-paid GSM phone cards are available from Iceland's two main phone companies, Síminn (tel. 800-7000; www.siminn.is) and Vodafone (tel. 1414 or 1800; outside Iceland tel. 599-9009; www.vodafone.is). Both also offer GPRS services for Internet access through your phone; almost all areas in Iceland with GSM also have GPRS (a notable exception is the Westman Islands).

Síminn branches in Reykjavik include Armulí 25, east of the city center, near the Nordica Hotel (tel. 550-7809); Kringlan Mall (tel. 550-6694); and Smáralind Mall (tel. 550-6506). Vodafone branches (all locations, tel. 599-9009) in Reykjavik are at Kringlan Mall, Smáralind Mall, and Skútuvogur 2, which is a little closer to downtown but harder to get to by bus. Síminn also has branches in Akureyri at Hafnarstræti 102 (tel. 460-6709); Egilsstaðir, at Miðvangur 1 (tel. 470-1009); and Ísafjörður, at Hafnarstræti 1 (tel. 450-6009). Vodafone has another branch in Akureyri (on Glerártorg).

When you sign up for a pre-paid GSM plan in Iceland, the SIM card is typically free, and the lowest starting credit is 2,000kr ($32/£16). Typical rates within Iceland are 23kr per minute or 10kr for a text message, no matter what time of the day or week. For both Síminn and Vodafone plans, the price of a call drops as much as 50% within Iceland if you are calling another cellphone operated by the same company. GPRS costs are typically 600kr ($9.60/£4.80) per megabyte, which encompasses about 400 short e-mails or 500 Web page views.

In Iceland only the caller pays for the call, even for calls from overseas. This makes cellphones a great way for people from home to keep in touch with you. Both Síminn and Vodafone will give you a four-digit prefix (1100 for Síminn, 1010 for Vodafone) for making international calls from Iceland -- the Síminn rate at press time is 25kr (38¢/19p) per minute to the U.S., hardly more than a domestic call within Iceland; Vodafone rates are higher.

Your cellphone account can be continually restocked by buying pre-paid cards called Frelsi (Freedom) at gas stations and convenience stores around the country. To make sure you buy the right card, specify whether your cellphone uses Síminn or Vodafone.

Satellite Phones -- "Satphones" can be helpful in more remote parts of Iceland. Two providers serve the country: Iridium satellite phones get the best coverage, whereas GlobalStar phones get only marginal coverage with a weaker signal. Iceland has no satellite phone agency, but products can be rented or purchased from two companies.

You can rent satphones from RoadPost (tel. 888/290-1606; www.roadpost.com). Iridium phone rental costs $8.99 per day, and the rate is $1.79 per minute. InTouch USA (tel. 800/872-7626; www.intouchglobal.com) offers a wider range of phones, but phone rental costs $99 per week with a per-minute rate of $2.40. As of this writing, satphones were amazingly expensive to buy: An Iridium handset costs between $1,300 and $1,600, though if you own one the per-minute rate goes down to about 95¢.

Voice-Over Internet Protocol (VOIP)

If you have Web access while traveling, you might 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 allows you to make free international calls from your laptop or in a cybercafe. The people you're calling may also need to be signed up. Check the sites for details.

With Your Own Computer

Several factors make Iceland a good place to bring your own computer: the widespread availability of free Wi-Fi; the difficulty of finding public Internet access terminals; the high cost of those public terminals; and the low crime rate. In Reykjavík and Akureyri you won't have trouble finding a cafe with free Wi-Fi, but in the rest of the country you'll have to ask around. Creative solutions can usually be found, from sitting in hotel lobbies (you're unlikely to be thrown out) to loitering outside library doors after closing hours. Reykjavík's international airport has a free hotspot at the Kaffitár cafe in the departure lounge.

If Wi-Fi is not available in your hotel, most business-class hotels throughout Iceland offer high-speed Internet cables for laptops. Call your hotel in advance to see what your options are, and call your ISP to see if they have a local Icelandic number you can dial into. For AOL, the local Iceland number is 511-0914; you'll pay $6/hour on top of the call cost.

If you're traveling outside the reach of your ISP, the iPass network has dial-up Internet access in Iceland (tel. 599-3300 or 530-0500). An iPass provider will help you set up your computer; for a list of providers, go to www.ipass.com and click on "Individual Purchase." One solid provider is i2roam (tel. 866/811-6209; www.i2roam.com).

Remember to bring a power adapter, and perhaps an Ethernet cable and phone cord as well. As in other European countries, Icelandic electricity runs at 220 volts, 50 Hz AC, and electric sockets have two round plugs; you may need an "international" power adapter that properly regulates the current to prevent computer damage. Icelandic phone jacks are the same as in North America, so Europeans will need an adapter.

Without Your Own Computer

Most accommodations do not provide Internet terminals for guests, so your best and least expensive resource is often the public library, which usually charges around 200kr ($3.20/£1.60) per hour. Some tourist information offices and cafes have Internet terminals for about 500kr ($8/£4) per hour.

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.