This is 2012, a time in the history of the planet where everything is about competition. We compete for food, for shelter, for friends, for ranks in classrooms, for praises from our boss and most of all we compete for money. Some want to provide their children with a good life and a good education, some want to be able to eat three square meals a day and some just want to flaunt what they have got in front of their friends. Reasons for entering the race may be many but in effect, the destination is pretty much the same. And this competition forces us to drop all our defenses and like a fish caught in the net, we desperately look for solutions that would reduce our monthly expenditures. One of the major expenses of the month is the telephone bill. How we wish we hadn’t been charged for it! But well, it has become increasingly important to maintain contacts and that is precisely why we are forced to use mobiles and landlines at such a frequency. With usage comes its price! One alternative that all bill-payers would want is the option of free phone calls. And that can be achieved by the various options that our internet provides.
The first thing one must understand when he thinks of using the internet for phone calls is ‘VoIP’ or ‘Voice over Internet Protocol’. It is nothing but the technology or the methodology that enables the transmission of information via the internet instead of the Public Switched Telephone or PSTN. Internet telephony enables the user to send messages, fax or make phone calls directly through the internet.
As common sense would have it, the basic steps involved in such a transmission are as follows:
1) Setting up a channel to signal and mediate the messages
2) Conversion of analog voice signals into digital signals
3) Encoding the signal
5) Transmission of the signal as what is called an Internet Protocol.
When the receiver receives the signal, he would have to take care of these very steps but obviously, in the reverse order. There are two main advantages of using the VoIP. The first one certainly is the cost. International phone calls through VoIP are practically free of cost when compared to the general phone calls made through mobile phones. The second major advantage is that more than one phone call can be made from a single broadband connection. This makes life much simpler for the corporate offices where they regularly indulge in conference calls and the likes. Hence, corporate offices are finding it much easier to stick to VoIP than using the PSTN. Another advantage provided by the VoIP is that it does not let anybody trace back the location to the user. The IP address has absolutely nothing to do with the current geographical location of the user. This works in favour of the many users who want to remain anonymous whilst on a call.
Several services use such VOIP and provide the facility of making free international calls. One such well-known site is SKYPE, which has over 250 million users all over the world. It is an application that basically makes a personal computer a telephone. The user needs to download free software that would result in his computer being linked to a distributed network that runs the service. The rest of the method involved in transmitting the calls is same as mentioned in case of VoIP. The advantage of Skype is that it functions according to a P2P model which enables two computers with the Skype application to be connected to each other directly instead of the centralized network. These days Skype can be installed using USB flash drives too; this saves installation on the computer. The calls made through Skype are all free provided both the parties use it. For making calls to normal phones, Skype provides a unique feature called the Skype-in and Skype-out. These are rental packages that allow the user to use a phone number that can be contacted by anyone who uses Skype in the former case and to get a phone number with which he can call anyone who uses Skype in the latter. These additional facilities have to be paid for but certainly, the total cost would turn out to be much lesser than the generic costs of phone calls.
Another service that can be used for making free phone calls is the widely used Yahoo Messenger. It has recently started the service of making phone calls from the computer to mobile phones. The installation and usage is extremely user friendly and there are just a few steps that one must follow in order to be able to connect to their friends through their computers. But a necessity for this facility like all others is a microphone and a headset. The steps for installing this are downloading and installing the Yahoo messenger, signing in and configuring the microphone and headsets, dialling the number 18003733411, selecting ‘free call’ option in the free411 service and then dialing in the phone number with the country code first. It is a very simple technique but the major disadvantage of using yahoo messenger is that a phone call would run only for 7 minutes. One can make multiple phone calls, all for free, to talk for more.
A very successful endeavor is the application called Google Voice that allows free phone calls from a pc and pc to pc phone calls. A phone call from Google Voice can run for three hours at a stretch however, the same number can be called repeatedly for further conversation. A drawback of this service is that the free calls made must be only to numbers in Canada or the United States. An effort to improve this drawback has been made by Freebuzzer which works in the same way as Google voice. But it comes with an additional drawback in that the phone call is limited to just about two minutes and it permits only three calls a day! Evaphone is another service but not one of the best as although it allows making a call to practically any number on the face of the earth, its call duration varies from about 10 seconds to a minute depending on the destination of the call and it permits making just two calls per day. Tuitalk is another application that can be used for the same purpose and it connects about 40 countries worldwide. But this application needs the download of its Internet Phone software and before the start of any call, it makes watching a high-quality advertisement compulsory. Thus, one must choose which application to use depending on the purpose of their call. A conference call would definitely account for Skype while a call to the States or Canada can be made via Google voice and so on.
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