Friday, November 25, 2011


My reader Bill says
I don't have a VoIP 'phone, but I did think about getting one some years back, but it seemed to me like a clumsy system and likely to be superseded by better technology relatively soon.
What I did start using around that time, and still do, is Skype. As well as the free PC-to-PC calls I use it for, I also buy credit to use it for calls to ordinary 'phones (landlines or mobile). You buy credit in blocks of £10- or equivalent and as calls to landlines in most countries I am ever likely to wish to call (basically most of Europe, North America incl. Hawaii, Australasia, Japan) are only about 2p a minute, the £10- credit lasts a long time. Of course one needs to have the PC on-line to make a call, but theoretically if you have wi-fi access in say an airport or coffee-shop then one can also use Skype and my laptops last for about 7 hours on battery power; I always buy wi-fi access in my room when staying in hotels, for example, and Skype always works fine. When I first started using Skype I had a USB 'phone to plug into my laptop, but my current machines have much better microphones and speakers so it's no longer necessary. Calls are usually reasonably-reliable I find, but like all internet calls incl. VoIP are prone to fading, however hanging-up and calling again normally solves the problem.
I'm sure you already know about Skype (?)

Of course Skype uses Voip technology so basically is the same thing. There are differences though:
First there is the set up. To use Skype you only need a computer with a microphone and web camera (most laptops, netbooks and some desktops fill this requirement). The software is free and easy to install.
For Voip you need either a Voip phone or a Voip adapter to plug into your router. Then you need to contact a Voip provider to set up an account. From there you need to configure the phone to work with your provider. None of this is too difficult but may put the average computer user off.

So why would you go to all this trouble when you can set up Skype so easily. The answer is three fold.
  1. There are many more features that you can use with Voip that are not included with Skype.
  2. A Voip phone connects to your router and so works independently of your computer. Even with a Skype USB phone you need your computer on to make and receive calls.
  3. With a Voip phone you can have a landline number that people can call. We have a local Manchester number but could have a number from anywhere in the UK or Spain for that matter. 
The cost of calls with Voiptalk, who we use, are 1p per minute to UK landlines. In fact they are 1p per minute to lots of other countries as well including the US. We buy a package which includes 1,000 minutes of calls per month. Calls to other Voip users are free as long as you know their Voip number as opposed to the landline number.

It is really down to personal choice. If you want something that is easy to set up, cheap (free to other Skype users) and convenient then choose Skype. If you want a phone that is permanently connected (as long as you have an internet connection) then choose Voip. Either way you will save a lot of money compared to the cost of landline packages.

PS We use Skype to make video calls to Sale so that we can see the antics of our granddaughter, Molly.

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