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Internet Telephony can save you money
Ankur Jain
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August 02, 2006

If you have ever -- and who hasn't -- thought of calling friends abroad for free, or at dirt-cheap rates, Internet Telephony is your answer. Simply pick from service providers like Yahoo, Skype, Net2Phone or Phonewala.com, and get started.

To begin with, however, a question: what exactly is Internet telephony? It is, simply, a service to make voice calls to people using the Internet. Most service providers exploit Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to accomplish this. Skipping the jargon, all you have to do is download a small application, and get registered with the service provider of your choice. That's that. You can start making calls.

Before we discuss the benefits and specific features provided by different provider, a little more about what you can do with Internet telephony. For one, it allows you to make calls from PC to PC and from a PC to any fixed line or mobile phone. Although PC-to-PC calls are not offered by all service providers, calls from PC to fixed lines or mobile phones are. The reason: PC-to-PC calls do not bring in revenue to service providers, as they are usually offered free.

To make a PC-to-PC call, simply login, add a few friends to your account, and start dialling. Do note, however, both caller and receiver need to be registered users with that service provider and should be logged in simultaneously. Registering for Yahoo and Skype users is free.

Now, PC to fixed line or mobile calls, which are charged to the user. First, you need to purchase calling value from the service provider, after which you can call any number in the world using the software provided.

Internet Telephony can save you more than 80 per cent on telephone bills for ISD calls. The table below shows you approximate rates charged by various service providers for a few countries. Simply compare it with your landline rates to figure out the advantages.

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We now come to individual service providers.

Net2Phone

To use the services from Net2Phone in India, you need to purchase a pre-paid account from a government-approved Internet Service Provider. Then, by using the software provided, one can make PC-to-PC or PC-to-Phone calls. You can even send a fax and chat with contacts in your Friend List.

Phonewala.com

Again, you need to purchase a calling card from the service provider. These are available in denominations costing between Rs. 50 and Rs. 20,000. Phonewala.com is a simple PC-to-Phone service provider. You will need to download and install the software before making use of the calling cards though. Wide and easy availability of the cards is a plus point.

Yahoo

The software for Internet telephony has been integrated into Yahoo messenger itself, which makes managing contacts really easy. You can simply make PC-to-PC calls to anyone on your Friends list who happens to be online. To make PC-to-Phone calls, you can purchase calling cards from Yahoo! Its messenger can also be used to send SMS to mobile friends, and for video chatting.

Skype

It offers all features mentioned, as well as a host of others. For one, it provides huge resources for freelance developers to play around and create lots of additional applications to enhance your experience with Skype. The call rates for Skype are among the cheapest for most countries, when compared to other service providers. It lets you call US toll-free numbers without any cost, which is a huge boon. By using Skype for smart phones, you can stay connected to Skype phones. The latter feature requires you to download and install Skype software for your smart phones though. This lets you make free calls to your friends logged on to Skype even from your cell phones. It means you can also save your relatives a lot of money by being logged on to Skype all day. Finally, it has a huge user community, with blogs and communities for Skype fans.

Apart from these service providers, there are quite a few others. Many Instant Messengers like Rediff BOL offer the facility to make free PC-to-PC calls.

Considering we have discussed most of the pros of Internet telephony � saves money, voice quality at par with regular calls, easy to install software � it's time to mention the disadvantages. For one, you need to be logged on to your PC to make cheap or free calls. Although Skype for mobile phones allows you to be online even while commuting, the software only works with smart phones for the moment. Also, for the non tech-savvy, the Internet telephony process may be a bit difficult to handle.

Still, weighing both pros and cons, it's the former that wins hands down. If you make a lot of ISD calls and have a PC at home, maybe it's time you started saving a little moolah.

Have you made phone calls using any of Internet Telephony software/messengers? Which one do you think is the best? Post your experiences.




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Number of User Comments: 36




Sub: Please help

Hi, Please help I am Ragesh frm India (kerala) I want to call to Africa through Skype or what ever u suggest. V spent about ...


Posted by Ragesh





Sub: call within india from PC to mobile

hi, can any one tell me how can i call within india in mobile using my pc


Posted by vikram





Sub: Can i send international sms from any messanger.?

How can i send and receive Internationl sms from any messenger and rreceive the same on my mobile in India?


Posted by harshit





Sub: net2mobile or pc2phone or pc2mobile

hi Hots & COOLs i want to know about any service of "net2mobile" or "pc2phone" or "pc2mobile" free of cost... Please let me know and ...


Posted by Ansh





Sub: internet telephoney

excellent article. veryuseful for me. regards.


Posted by Dr.Sahadeva Singh




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