Voice over Internet Protocol - Whatís all the Hype about Skypeô
If you've never heard of VoIP, get ready to change the way you think about phone calls. VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is a method for taking analogue audio signals, like the kind you hear when you talk on the phone, and turning them into digital data that can be transmitted over the Internet.
How is this useful? VoIP can turn a standard (broadband) Internet connection into a way to place free phone calls (subject to your download limit). The practical upshot of this is that by using some of the free VoIP software that is available to make Internet phone calls, you are bypassing the phone company (and its charges) entirely.
Sounds great.... and it is! I am going to focus on using the Skype software, since itís probably the best known at the moment. I know that some of you are already using Skype but you may find this article of interest with regard the useful hardware and free software Iíve found.
In summary, Skypeô software is FREE and is very easy to install and use. It doesnít encounter the same issues of reliability associated with MSN Messenger, which often seems to stumble when trying to get through firewalls etc.
I would suggest at minimum you purchase a simple headset with microphone, these can be easily found for less than £10. Install the software, plug the headset into the speaker and microphone sockets and away you go. Well not quite.... The person you want to call must also have Skype installed. But as you can see, itís very easy and cheap to get up and running, so thereís no reason why you canít keep in touch with your friends and relatives anywhere in the world.
Ah you say, what about those people that donít have a PC and broadband? Well Skype have thought of that and you can use your Skype connection to make calls to standard phones. You just need to prepay (as you do for a Prepay mobile service) 10 Euros for the SkypeOut service from their website. Their call rates are exceptional, you can call either your next door neighbour or your relatives in Australia for just over 1 penny per minute (click here for Rates to all destinations). If you work from home or you are often calling abroad, you will quickly save a lot of money!
Another feature from Skype is to subscribe to a virtual telephone number. With SkypeIn, you can get your own, regular phone number. So if your friends who arenít using Skype want to call you by dialling a regular number, you can still receive the call in Skype. No matter where you are.
There are a whole range of accessories now becoming available that enhance the VoIP experience.
I am testing out a USB Telbox in my office/home; this enabled me to connect my standard phone or digital phone base unit to my PC. Now I can make and receive calls using either my BT line or the broadband Skype service from any of the digital handsets in the house. For a Skype call I just key * before dialling the number, itís that simple. Whilst this is great at integrating my landline or VoIP calls to my phones, it does limit us to either a Landline or VoIP call, but not both.
So for complete flexibility, I now have a single USB Phone for the office, this allows us to now have two phone lines when working, then in the evening, we switch back to the Telbox which avoids having to sit by the PC when making or receiving VoIP calls.
Check out this site to learn more about VoIP http://www.voip.org.uk/ Make and receive calls to ordinary phones with your computer. www.skype.com
Tip from PC-KING
Need a voice answering facility for FREE when using Skype - then check out SAM.
SAM is a simple voice answering machine for Skypeô users. When you are away from your PC and there is no one to answer your incoming Skypeô calls, SAM will pick up the call, play a greeting message and the "all-time classic beep" so that the calling party will leave a voice recorded message.
If you use Outlook for your contacts etc. then you need Look2Skype, it will automate dialling telephone numbers using SkypeOut and save you time - and it's FREE.
Look2Skype is an add-in which integrates Skype IP Telephony and instant messaging into Microsoft Outlook 2002, XP, and 2003. With Look2Skype installed you can make Skype IP telephony calls, SkypeOut Skype calls to non-Skype users, and start Skype Instant Messenger chats directly from your contact list in Outlook.
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