Everyone has been talking about "VoIP" for so long, that part of me expects everyone would know about this. However, each person I've told about it has been fairly surprised and impressed. So, I thought I would share this in case anyone's interested.
I've been able to reduce my long distance calling expenses to nearly zero by getting a VoIP phone and plugging it into my router. You can do this too, if most of your long distance calls are to a small group of people who all have high-speed internet.
My uncle bought my Dad and I the Grandstream BudgeTone 100 phone. All you do is plug it into your router, and configure a totally-free phone number with Free World Dial-up. You can then make calls directly to anyone else with a VoIP phone. You don't even need to have your computer on... just your internet connection.
The sound quality has been excellent. If I'm not trying to simultaneously download things with my computer, the sound quality actually seems better than real phone lines, and is a massive improvement over programs like Skype.
The whole system works exactly like regular phones. I dial my Dad's number on the phone and either speak to him or leave him a voice-mail. It allows me to call anytime of day, completely free, even if my regular landline is in use.
The service provided by Free World Dial-up is just a way for your phone to have a permanent phone number mapped onto your changing IP address. It's a fairly simple service to provide, which is one reason they do it for free. However, if they ever go broke, your phone will work just fine. I think there are other similar services, but even if not, you can place a direct call just by knowing the IP address of the other party. So, once you own the phone, you're set.
You can buy the phone in Canada from NetVoice for $90. Or, for $85, you can buy an adapter that will allow you to turn any phone -- like a cordless -- into your internet phone. If you don't have a router, they have ones that eliminate the need.
Gee... I've never written a blog post that sounded so much like an ad before. Actually, I don't feel like writing much these summer days, but thought this might be a useful way to show I'm still alive.
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