Engin, Skype and Vmail: clearing up a few loose endsThe telecommunications industry has gone through vast redevelopment over the past decade, particularly following the upsurge of Internet dependability. With increased mobile phone competition and the introduction of telephone calls over the Net, there has been a lot of new technology appearing in a short space of time, sometimes making it difficult for even the most tech-minded consumer to keep up. You’ve probably heard of one or more of VoIP, Skype, Vmail and Engin, but are the differences between them clear, and how is each one contributing towards redefining the communications industry?
Vmail - video email
Vmail is a fairly new method of emailing video as an alternative to text. Previously, sending video (as an attachment) was largely unrealistic other than for fairly small video files, and streaming video within an email was almost impossible (due to large video file size and slower Internet connection speeds). Vmail could realistically change the way we communicate, as video becomes a much more viable option for replying easily to online mail messages. Vmail is currently subject to monthly fees (which vary according to amount of messages a user is allowed to send per month, length of recorded messages, and amount of online storage allowed), with users able to send video email easily to any email address. Prices start at roughly AU$10 per month, and packages can cost up to AU$1000 per month. You may be thinking that vmail doesn’t sound like too much of a revolution, considering Skype’s existing video calling service, and the fact that social networking sites (such as Facebook, YouTube and MySpace) have already enabled the posting of video messages. It is up to the individual to consider if the service is really an essential tool (given the monthly fees), or whether the service merely allows unwanted “spam” (or “junk”) email to arrive in the form of video from now on.
VoIP and Skype - broadband voice services
Sometimes it’s easy to confuse the name of a type of medium or industry area with popular, pioneering brands within the field. “Voice over Internet protocol” (or “VoIP”) allows people to make cheap phone calls (or free phone calls, if calling other users using the same program) using their broadband connection. Skype is a type (and brand) of VoIP, and not vice-versa. Skype has become synonymous with Internet telephone calling simply because it is the most successful VoIP company to date. Skype has drawn comparisons with vmail by offering a video chat (or “video call”) service using webcams. More and more people these days are connecting a regular phone to their broadband connection to maximise savings. You can use the "soft phone" program to enable your standard phone for broadband use, or you can specifically purchase a broadband phone.
Engin et al - other names in voice over Internet protocol
Engin is not the name of a type of technology; it’s a brand name for an Australian VoIP provider. Partly-owned by the Seven Network, it is Australia’s largest VoIP phone provider, with 60,000 customers. The service allows you to make and receive calls over your broadband Internet connection using a special internet phone or voice box. MyNetFone and Gotalk are two other companies that provide the VoIP Internet telephone call service, offering huge savings on regular landline calls, with MyNetFone even offering no minimum monthly fee and providing an inbound number for incoming calls as an optional extra. Most VoIP providers offer free calls to other users of the same service.
VoIP becoming the standard means of voice and video communications seems less a matter of “if” and more a matter of “when”, certainly in some form. Broadband Internet, especially with the perfection of future transfer methods (such as fibre optics), seems a more reliable and cost-effective means of telecommunications against the standard of analogue, over-ground telephone lines. Now that voice calls over the Internet have become common practice, it remains to be seen how quickly video content develops into a standard feature of communicating with your family and friends.
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