Getting Started With VoIP
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and its major player, Skype, are changing the way people make telephone calls. More and more people, particularly in the area of long-distance calling, are slashing their phone bills by using simple, free-to-download software. The best part is, if you are calling another user of the same programme, you don’t get charged for the VoIP calls.
Getting started with VoIP – it’s a breeze
First up, you need access to a computer with broadband Internet. This is crucial – dial-up is just too slow. Many people think you need an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to be able to use the VoIP but this is a misconception. In theory, you don’t even need to own a computer if you live near a web café that has computers with the Skype programme installed. All you actually have to do is open a free account and select a username. The only thing you need for this is a valid email address.
VoIP system requirements and software
If you have a PC, you’ll need Windows 2000 or XP, or if you have a Mac, a G4 800 Mhz processor or faster. You’ll need at least a 400MHz processor (1GB for video calling), and at least 128MB ram (perhaps 256MB for video calling). You’ll also need at least 40MB free space on your hard drive. If none of this makes much sense to you, worry not: most modern computers satisfy the necessary requirements for straight audio calls.
All you need, in terms of hardware, is a microphone and some speakers or headphones. Most computers have these installed and, if not, you can buy a basic headphone/speaker set at almost any computer stores, often for as little as $20. If you want to engage in video calls, you will need a webcam. If your computer hasn’t got one built in, you can buy one, again for as little as $20 for a bottom-of-the-range model. You may also want a device to fit your regular phone that plugs into your modem, meaning you can leave your computer to make calls. Some ISPs now offer these adaptors, while the Skype website offers a range of products in this area.
Putting credit on your VoIP account
Panic not – Skype calls, for example, are free to other Skype users but to call a normal landline phone from your Skype or JahJah account you will need to buy credit. For a small fee you can also buy a landline number, registered in a wide range of international cities, for others to make calls to, which you can answer when logged into your Skype account. This means your friends in New York can call you on your “New York number” and only pay local prices.
Inspired? Now you know what all the fuss is about.
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