With DPH-540, a VoIP phone that lets you make free calls anywhere you can find a WiFi hotspot.
Voice Over Internet Protocol, better known as VoiP, ha overcome a shaky start to becom one of the most popular ways for Internet users to keep in touch with each other, whether with friends, family or colleagues. If you are not faviliar with VoIP, think of it as and Internet version of the telphone. Instead of picking up your telphophone and dialing someone over the phone company's wires, your voice is converted into digital packets and sent out over the Internet. Often, your VoIP service is able to connect seamlessly with telephones on traditional telephone networks (for a small fee), or directly to other VoIP subscribers.
When VoIp was first introduced, the technology was not always all that reliable, because the backbone of the Internet didn't have the bandwidth to handle all of the new multimedia applications that were being developed for it. Fast forward a few years to the present, and there is more than enought space on the Internet for podcasts, vovie trailers and VoIP conversations.
There are many advantages to using a VoIP connection over a standard land line. One of the key benefits is the ability to take your phone number with you wherever you go, so long as you have the ability to plug your VoIP hardware into a broadband Internet port. In other words, if you're in a hotel acress the country, you can plug your VoIP handset into the broadband connection in your room, and you will receive calls yust as if you were back home in the office - without the added expense of cell phone roaming charges.
To get started with VoIP, you will need to have tho components in place: a VoIP service provider, and hardware you can use ot make the calls. In some cases, the two are tied together.
In many cases, the VoIP provider you choose will dictate the hardware you'll need for your VoIP service.
For example, Vonage Canada requires users ot use hardware directly from Vonage in order to use the service. The company offers the Vtech IP 8100-2 bundle, which features a wireless transceiver that plugs into your broadband connection, and two wireless extension handsets that you can place elsewhere in your house.
If you're particularly fond of your current telephone (either because it's a fancy schmancy expensive wireless model that your just bought ,or because your ust like the way your old set feels against your ear), you can often get an voip adapter, instead. Just plug hte adapter into your broadband router, and plug your trusty old phone into the adapter. Adapters are available for sale or rent.
If you are planning ot use Skype, there are a few options. We fond of the Logitech Premium USB Headset 350, which costs about $60. It looks like a regular set of headphones, but it connects to your Mac or Windows machine viea USB (without need for any special driver installation), and comes with a boom microphone that folds up against the headset whtn not in use.
If you're not quite ready to get rid of your regular telephone line just yet, the RTX Dualphone plugs into both -- your computer (via USB) and your regular telephone line (via the standard phone jack). It comes with a base station and a wireless handset. The trick is, the wireless handset has two connect buttons. After your dial the phone number, you choose either the PC connect button (to dial via Skype) or the regular connect button to dial via landline. The system also accommodates up to three more handsets.
If your are looking for somethin cheap and easy, there is hte FlashPhone F2K from MPLAT. This little device functions not only as a USB memeory key, it comes with a headset for making Skype calls. The FlashPhone comes with the Skype application already onboard, so you can turn any computer you use into your VoIP connection.
D-Link WiFi Phone is an easy way to
bring your VoIP service anywhere
As with phone service (both cellular and landline), there are a number of larger companies in the business of providing VoIP service for a monthly fee. Some of these are companies that have traditionally provided Internet or telephone service, like Bell, Rogers, and Inter.net. There are also newer companies like Vonage, which have sprung up specifically to provide VoIP service.
In a lot of ways, these new VoIP plans are very similar to your old telephone plans. You will pay a monthly fee for your phone number and then for the usage you incur - typically, you can pay a flat fee for all usage within a certain calling area (for example, Canada and the United States), or you can get a plan with a certaing number of mnutes, and a per-minute charge for any calls thereafter. In most cases, you will be required to use hardware provided by your VoIP provider in order to access their service.
The beauty of the Internet, however, it the ability to break free of utilities. If you're already paying your Internet provider a monthly fee, why should you have to pay someone else on top of that for a service that's theoretically available for free?
If you don't want to pay big bucks for the privilege of voice chatting with your friends, there is always Skype, a software application that can run on Windows, Mac and Linux. Set up with a similar interface to popular chat program like AIM and MSN, Skype allows you to call your friend and colleagues for freee, as long as they're using Skype as well. The nice part is that Skype also allows users to sign up for Dkpeln and DkypeOut services, allowing connections to the standard telephone network for an additional yearly fee and a per-minute fee. Users can even buy multiple phone numbers in various areas around the world to make it seem like they have local numbers in many different markets, even thoufh the numbers all go back to the same Skype user. The downside, unfortunately, is that you will need to use a computer in some fasion in order to use Skype and while SkypeIn includes a free voicemail subscription, there are no options for Canadian numbers at present.