Voice over IP

One of the biggest growth areas in the computing industry of late has been the proliferation of Voice over IP packages and the resulting popularity of them amongst Internet users.For those of you unsure exactly what this technology is all about, keep reading as I could be about to save you a fortune.

The Internet is handy as it allows us to carry data into other countries pretty much free of charge; you can instantly e-mail to a friend in America for example rather than writing a letter which would take days.This is fair enough but often e-mail just isn’t suitable for a number of reasons – Perhaps you want a more personal touch or if the call is of a business nature you may need to discuss ideas which would be a lengthy process over e-mail.Using Voice over IP software allows us to carry our voices across the Internet in order to call someone using similar software on their machine or even to call them on their regular home telephone.

Let’s say that you want to call a business colleague in France and you do this using a normal BT phone line.Looking at the BT website I believe that the standard daytime call rate is 17p per minute so a one hour phone call would cost you around £10 although this could obviously be cheaper if you were on one of their International calling plans.Using a free program called Skype (www.skype.com) you would be able to call this person completely free of charge if he were also using the software or alternatively if he doesn’t have access to a computer or the Internet you can call his normal phone number for just 1.1p per minute (66p for the whole hour compared with £10 on BT).

Getting set up is relatively hassle free; the download is a fairly small 6.4mb which will take no time at all to download on a broadband connection and it’s then just a case of signing up with a user name and password.If you only ever call other Skype users you never pay a penny for the service and the software also includes features such as Instant Messaging and file transfers.Only when you want to call regular phones are you required to deposit money into your account to fund the call and the rate is 1.1p for all the most popular destinations.

The software is easy to use and the call quality is generally good although not up to the quality of a regular landline phone call but when you consider the huge saving I’m sure this is something that many people will be able to cope with.You have the option to conference call and there are security protocols in place to ensure all calls you make are kept private.

Skype can be used on pretty much any Internet connection although the quality of your calls will be far superior if you are using broadband.With broadband prices now starting around the £15 a month level there really is no reason not to make the move as I would now only recommend dial up access for those who have the very lightest Internet usage.

Give it a go by heading to www.skype.com; the worst that can happen is that you don’t get along with the idea of Voice over IP but on the flipside you could potentially save yourself a fortune!

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.