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Communication
 
Telephone services
 
Public telephones in the UK can be coin operated or card operated. To use a card-operated phone, you need either a credit card or a special, pre-paid phonecard. Phonecards come in values of 2, 5, 10 and 20 and you can buy them from newsagents, post offices and supermarkets.

Before you dial, pick up the receiver and listen for dialling tone. After you dial, if the number you want is available, you will hear a repeated double ring. If it is busy, you will hear the engaged tone - a repeated single note. If a number is unavailable, you will hear a steady tone. When your money or card is about to run out, you will hear a series of rapid beeps.
 
Low-cost calling
 
Calling from a private phone is significantly cheaper than calling from a public phone. Inland calls (calls within the UK) are cheapest between 6.00 p.m. and 8.00 a.m. International calls are cheapest between 8.00 p.m. and 8.00 a m. There are also reduced rates on weekends.

A number of different companies now offer pre-paid or account-based phone cards, many of which are aimed at people who need to make international calls. Compare cards carefully as rates differ. In some cases, making your international calls using one of these cards could work out cheaper than using the main phone service provider.
 
Mobile phones
 
Mobile phones are widely used in the UK and can be particularly convenient for students. Before you buy one, check all details of the competing packages carefully, including both the monthly charge and the charges for calls. A mobile phone that is cheap to buy could turn out to be expensive to use if it is not the right package for you.
 
Email
 
Internet usage is widespread in the UK. Some colleges and universities provide free email accounts for their students; check with your Students' Union. There are two other main options:

  • if you have your own computer, you can sign up directly with one of the UK's internet service providers. Several now offer free access; all you pay is the phone company's charges for your connection time
  • sign up with one of the many web-based email services (Hotmail, Yahoo, etc.) and then check your email using online computer terminals at your institution, a public library or a friend's home. This option should cost you absolutely nothing.
 
Postal services
 
Post Offices are usually open from 9.00 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. Monday to Friday, and from 9.00 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. on Saturday. You can also buy stamps at newsagents, supermarkets and some other shops.
 

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