Sent: 31-07-2006 00:16:20
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A Matter of Time? - Lester Wills
I read Mark's article on VoIP last week with interest. I have been using VoIP for several months as I was put onto it by my (computer geek) son. I downloaded Skype and purchased a USB headset with built in microphone, set it up and away I went. I must admit I was a tentative user to start with and only used it with international or long distance calls.
However, I gradually started using it for more and more out going calls as I found it worked well. I also noted that a reduction in my phone bills, particularly as I was calling the UK every week using VoIP and not the landline. Skype also released a new version, which I download and installed. Whilst I found the system worked well, when Skype released an updated version I downloaded this and it appears to work very well indeed..
Things changed in May when my daughter moved to the US. Her husband is in IT and decided they would use Skype as well. They even set up a local (as in Australian) number and we can call them in the US using that, as a local call, but at extremely cheap (Skype) rates. Having said that, I now usually use their Skype address as Skype to Skype calls are totally free. My daughters friends however now call her on the local number and it is very cheap for them to keep in contact.
My daughter then informed me that they purchased a VoIP telephone which they have plugged into their lap top and use that all the time. They no longer have a landline but use VoIP and their cell phones. The have set up a local (US) number as well and all their friends and contacts in the US use that as well. She said it took a little getting used to having the computer ring like a telephone, but they have got over that now.
I was also surprised one day when my daughter called me from the US and then discovered that she had set up a 'conference' call with my son who was in Bathurst. The only problem was making sure one person spoke at a time. Other than that, it was crystal clear.
I also upgraded my headset and immediately noticed a difference in quality. I can adjust the volume on the headset and have no problem hearing or being heard. As a result I now use the system for virtually all my calls, and have found another significant drop in my phone bills.
I have found the call quality good and have very few problems with dropouts. I have checked with people I call and they all seem to have no problems either. I most certainly have no problems when talking to my daughter in the US or my family in the UK or my son in Bathurst.
I have even looked at the potential of the combined systems. These provide a unit that is plugged into the normal wall socket as well as into your computer. The hands free phone can then be used for both "normal" and VoIP calls and people can call using either system as well. I do not pretend to understand how it works, but it sounds an interesting idea. I also have no idea how good they are I must add.
I have not purchased one as to do so means that I would have to maintain the landline rental, which is now far and away the largest portion of my bill. Instead I may simply upgrade to a VoIP telephone which I plug into the lap top.
The above is not an endorsement of VoIP, merely an illustration of my experience using this type of technology. I am always happy to try out new things but I must admit I am not quite at the point where I have removed the landline and replaced it with the VoIP system.
However, I think it may only be a matter of time.
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