best- Talk is cheap with VoIP
VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol
, is the most popular means of sending telephone calls across the Internet instead of using traditional telephone network.
This means that instead of switching circuits to complete you call, VoIP switches around packets of data
. Each one is able to reach its destination by the shortest availab
le online route, allowing many more calls to be crammed into bandwidth you are already paying for from you ISP (Internet Service Provider).
It is yet another killer application for broadband, and can also save your money.Slow evolution
Tipped to be a revolution for much of the decade, Internet telephony has been a great idea waiting for technology to catch up.Firstly, the demands of transmitting two-way audio required the speed and always-on connectivity of broadband.
Then it needed use-friendly software and finally, and agreed standard so that everyone could plug into the same network.
Although it can only lay claim to two of those conditions for mass-market acceptance, with Wireless VoIP also set for take off, the advantages are becoming hard to ignore, especially for business.
Firstly, there’s the functionality, which combines “better than mobile”
sound quality with instant audio-conferencing, ringtone differentiation, call hunting and simultaneous text, speech and video.
Then, of course, there’s cost, which for those calls made from one PC to another usually remains free. VoIP ingredients
The main question is, of course, how do you start saving money on your calls?
Naturally, you’ll need a reasonably powerful system – Windows PC or Mac – a minimum 512Mbps broadband connection and, preferably, a USB headset and microphone (though a normal headset would suffice). Then you’ll need a VoIP client, usually free to download.
The best known is Skype
), but Communicator (www.bt.com/btcommunicator
), shows how even British has embraced what remains a critical threat to its core telephony business.No standards yet
However, as with instant messaging, there is no single VoIP standard
; so if you’re using Skype’s basic fixed package, you can only talk to fellow Skype users.
Some clients such as Vonage
) use an open-source standard known as Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) that is widely expected to become the industry standard over time.
For now, check what you friends, family or colleagues are using before paying for any extra packages
. Once installed, simply add new numbers or contacts as you would with instant messaging and wait for your new digital phone to “ring”.
Finally, remember that VoIP is not yet true landing substitute
. Many networks cannot handle emergency calls, you’ll probably need yet another new number to send and receive faxes, and you will almost certainly lose all services during a power failure – whereas your landline continues to draw power from the telephone network.
Even if VoIP saves you money, it would take a brave user to dispense with their landline just yet – Guardian Newspaper Ltd.
-the future of telecommunication?-