Back in the day when I tried some of the original internet telephone services with my 56k (if you were lucky) dialup, internet telephones (software phones) were pretty much unusable. I never tried again until recently.
I admit it – I’m a total techno geek. But when it comes to internet telephones, I’ve been a relative latecomer. I signed up for Vonage about six months ago and have loved it ever since. I don’t use my home telephone all that much, so the 500 minute, $14.99 plan is more than sufficient for me. But lordy – for $14.99 I’m getting much better service than I was getting with QWest or Sprint local service for $50 a month – and that didn’t include long distance, voicemail or any of that other jazz!
Just recently I signed up with Google Talk – it’s basically another instant messaging service, with a nice and clean Google interface, but also includes VOIP (voice over internet protocol) service so you can actually use your computer as a telephone. Plug a microphone and speakers in (or if you’ve got a laptop, you likely already have both of these things built in), and wam-bam-thank-you-mam, you’ve got a speakerphone! I love it. Now I just need to get more of my friends signed up so that I can use it more regularly.
I’ve also just signed up for a Skype account. Skype has been on top of the internet telephone game for a couple of years ago and it’s just been announced that eBay is purchasing them. It was just a couple of years ago that eBay bought PayPal – a competitor to its own proprietary money-echange service. That purchase made sense, but the telephone buyout is a little bit of a mystery to me. Sure, it’ll likely be a moneymaker, but eBay is into selling merchandise???
I hope this stuff continues to be free. I don’t mind seeing advertising here and there if it’s not intrusive, just don’t start charging!
Do any of you use these services? What have your experiences been? Any recommendations?