By Willie Reynolds
So does the abbreviation VoIP leave you dumb struck? Don't
worry; even I was when I heard about it for the first time.
clouds parted when I discovered what it stands for: Voice over
Have you ever been left hapless at the sight of immensely long
queues outside phonebooks? And that too when you need to make
call to your aunt in LA and wish her on her 65 th birthday.
though you brave the queue for seemingly endless minutes or
hours, the constantly rising bill makes you our or
too short to even cal it conversation. International calls are
still not dirt cheap and now that the world and its brother
have PC's and Internet connection, even technophobes should
have enough sense to download software that enables you to
phone calls using the Internet! Yes, you read it right. Make
phone calls using Internet. Just need to catch hold of an IP
phone and a software like Skype and you are ready for a
futuristic roller coaster experience!
Calling anywhere on Earth for three or four rupees a minute
at most, is a pretty darn good idea, and one that's catching
big time. VoIP, in layman's terms is the use of certain
and software that makes you call up any other person on this
planet. Thereafter, you only need a good headset to have a
and assuming of course, that you have a multimedia PC and not
In a poll conducted worldwide, as many as a billion people
abandoned telephone for IP telephony. In fact, you can make a
phone call to the US on dialpad coin for as little as 75 paise
a minute. The internet does not know or care whether the data
that's rushing through its 'routers' began as a phone
conversation or a movie or a search for Pamela Anderson. As
long as it is in digital packets, it can find its' way to the
Internet Protocol (IP) address it's meant for. And so what is
happening is more and more phone calls are getting made
You can do it in either of the following of two ways: by going
to a site like dialpad.com or perhaps your own Internet
service provider's site (if they offer the service), or by
picking up an IP phone at a broadband Internet café like sify.
If you make the call using your computer all you have to do is
to go to the website, buy a prepaid package that suits you
using your credit card, and enter the destination number.
Another way is Skype. Skype is a free software for Internet
phoning. It's so simple that even technophobia can't be an
excuse. Check out whether your computer has Windows 2000 or
400 MHz or a more powerful processor, 126 MB or more RAM, a
sound card, speakers and microphones and atleast 33.6 kbps
dial-up-modem connection. A broadband connection is best. Make
sure your hard drive has atleast 15MB space to download Skype.
If the above is Greek to you, just ask any geek to check out
your system parameters.
Now, go to www.skype.com, click on the download link,
save the programme on your desktop, open it and double click
the installation file. Once Skype is installed, take out your
last month's phone bill and have a good laugh.
With Skype, you can call another Skype-user anywhere in the
world for free (you only pay for the net usage, not calls).
Skype has an option for landline calls that requires payment
charges depend on where you are calling. But rates are still
cheaper than landline costs.
The voice may break or come in snatches if the connection is
slow. But things are likely to get vapidly better in that
matter. My experience has been that if your soundcard,
microphone and headsets are of good quality, Skype gives you
fairly good service.
Also, IP telephony scores over messenger services offered by
MSN or AOL. In the letter, if your net connection speed is
different from your interlocutor's, its' hard to talk
simultaneously. With Skype, this makes no difference.
The broadband wagon has started to role, so its' success seems
assured. In fact, it could even affect mobile telephony. New
Scientist reported earlier this year that cellphones with
in Wi-fi capability that link to low-cost internet connection
are nearly for launch long-distance call costs can take
The flip side is, if you are calling Skype-to-Skype, the
party will have to be online and pretty near the computer.
Similarly, if a Skype-contact calls you and you are offline or
online but missing about in the other room, you'll miss the
That's a disadvantage so do as the experts suggest. Just
the word on your online habits among your Skype contacts or
pre arrange a chat by email or via a short, normal phone
conversation. But the whole purpose of the technology is
defeated by the cost of Skype enabled phones still, with IP
telephony, I sometimes wish to give all the phone booth things
a piece of my mind at little cost and from a safe distance.
About The Author: Willie Reynolds maintains a website
to helping people make decisions about VoIP. Visit his site