Saturday, 25 February 2006

Skype Out

For any of you that haven’t come around to using your PC as a telephone, with Voice over IP (VoIP) with Skype or any similar popular service, it might be time to give it a try.

This morning, as I was reading the papers, my PC “Rang” and it was a business contact from Bahrain. Saturday is a working day there. He had a webcam attached to his PC, which reminded me to turn my own on too, so we had a video conference call, which cost.. well absolutely nothing, as we are both Skype users connected over the internet with VoIP.

When I was in the Middle-east two weeks ago, I took a headset with me and used Skype to make most of my calls to work and home from the hotel lobby, with its wireless network connection. Historically, a visit to the area means that I arrive home to find a huge Vodafone bill and I reckon that simply using VoIP saves me at least £100 on each trip, with my Skype calls being either free, or tiny small if I’m calling out from the PC to a landline or a mobile phone.

The next thing I’m looking for is a Skype handset for the house. I hear that both Tesco and Argos are now doing them. This means of course that the family can use the home wireless network to make free calls over VoIP and I rather wonder what my BT standing line rental charges mean anymore in contrast. Daylight robbery may be another word for it.

So if you want the convenience of free video calls to friends and family in future perhaps it’s time to join the Skype generation? Ultimately, all telephony will go this way by 2010 as BT upgrades its network but by then, companies like Skype will have stolen the ham from between BTs sandwich I suspect!?

1 comment:

Ben Verwaayen said...

I'd like to draw your attention to another "free" telephone like service which has, I believe, more promise.

Take a look at www.gizmoproject.com

Great thing about this product is that is uses SIP as the connection protocol. Now SIP is short for "session initiation protocol" and is the standard used by virtually all VOiP product providers. Another thing, the instant message capability un Gizmo uses the Jabber standard - allowing better integration with jabber based IM accounts.

The trouble with SKYPE is quite simply the proprietary and private protocols it uses - making it difficult to integrate with other producrs and services. That said, there is a wealth of 3rd parties out there providing add-on products to Skype.

Finally, you can buy an adapter that turns your standard BT compatible phone into something that will plug into a USB port on your PC/MAC thereby allowing you to continue to use the existing equipment in you house. I've also seen standard phones that can be used for both stand landlines and with a key sequence, SKYPE.

When I joined BT ... my strategy was to push Broadband out at a low price that would achieve full market pentration and make up for the inevitable loss of voice revenues. We're getting there!

ps. if anyone has worked out how SKYPE or others can address the 911 legal requirements - please let me know! Until then... there will always be a place for traditional voice.