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Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP

VoIP has been buzzing around the news and media as well as the computer industry for some time now, long enough for a lot of people to have at least heard of it, if not know what it is.

What is it?

It's a rare acronym that is actually meaningful. It is a method of sending a conversation (voice) across a group of connected computers (over Internet protocol). As using the Internet doesn't cost any extra once it is provided, VoIP can appeal because it cuts out the cost of a telephone call. There are other advantages depending on what you find useful: encryption as standard to stop anyone from snooping, sending computer files and text-based chat to share an Internet address or similar.

How do I use it?

There are various different VoIP programs and services available but I believe that Skype is one of the leaders. First and foremost the program seems to be well-written and efficient; one of the most important things in my book. While not in a conversation it is completely idle as far as the computer is concerned. It also only takes up the memory it needs, so when not being used it keeps itself tidy and quiet in the computer's working space. Even when talking to another party it doesn't unnecessarily hog the computer's resources which is quite rare in today's world of sloppy programming. And gives it a brownie point in my eyes.

How much does it cost?

The second most attractive feature is that a lot of Skype's features are free. You can converse with other Skype users and transfer files at no cost. Skype make their money by offering more advanced features, such as an answering service and calls to/from telephones and mobiles, at a very reasonable cost. If you just wanted to use Skype to talk to a family member or another staff member or branch then Skype does not charge.

The voice quality is nothing but excellent; if you have broadband then it is at least as good as a telephone and as Skype have done an efficient job it doesn't suck up all of your Internet bandwidth or computer power. I am currently offering installation of Skype as well as usage help for £40 for a single computer or £60 for two computers. If you have an office you'd like to have VoIP available to then contact me for an estimate. The fee also includes setting up your firewall or Internet security program to allow Skype to use its full speed and quality and a month's technical support if you have any problems after installation.
I offer an enhanced-security installation if you are using Windows 2000 or Windows XP Professional which runs Skype on a restricted basis to add an extra level of protection against malicious intrusions. Ask about this method for additional details and fees if you are interested.

What can I do with it?

Plenty! The free Skype-to-Skype communication means that you can chat to a family member for free for as long as you want. You may be a business with more than one branch, or have home workers, that could benefit from VoIP. It might be attractive as a secure way to transfer files across the Internet or to call technical support. If you want to use Skype's paid services you could save money with their lower tariffs, especially to mobile phones.

8th October 2005
Copyright © Proactive Services (Computing) 2010.
Adam Piggott, Proprietor.

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