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Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC
Old 08-18-2005, 11:11 AM   #1
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Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC

Hi All:

I have been using this for a week now and it is pretty good. VOICE Over IP from Skype. www.skype.com It is so easy to set up and my SpyWare Scanners and Virus Scanners have not detected any nasties lurking around.

Basically is uses your computer speakers and microphone to communicate with folks over the net. I am not sure whether it can conference call. But it would be kind of cool to talk to frienda and family that are a long way off. We could test it out with NORDS in Hi. I have a real time internet connection I am sure it would not work well over dial up.

Anyway try it out, if you have not already and tell us about your experienced if you have.

SWR
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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC
Old 08-18-2005, 11:24 AM   #2
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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShokWaveRider
We could test it out with NORDS in Hi. I have a real time internet connection I am sure it would not work well over dial up.
Sure, I'm getting my DSL from Verizon and it'd give me great pleasure to use their TCP/IP network to screw them out of avoid paying their long-distance fees.
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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC
Old 08-18-2005, 11:45 AM   #3
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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC

Yes you can do conference calls.
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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC
Old 08-18-2005, 12:15 PM   #4
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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC

I have used Skype and it's nice. You'll want to invest in a good quality microphone and/or headset.
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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC
Old 08-18-2005, 12:24 PM   #5
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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC

I just took a look at their site and am wondering a couple things.

If you can talk for free how do they earn $$?

I took a look at their rates for Manila, ~$0.20/min. Doesn't look free to me.
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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC
Old 08-18-2005, 12:36 PM   #6
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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC

If you talk computer to computer (where both people are using Skype) it is free. If you want to use your computer to call someone's phone or if you want to have a "phone number" for your computer, so people can use a phone to call your computer, then that is where they charge a fee. I've used Skype a couple of times and its great. Super easy to set up and use. Also, if you move a lot then it is a way to keep the same phone number.

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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC
Old 08-18-2005, 01:27 PM   #7
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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC

Works great for me. THe IM functionality is also very good. I use Skype to call out to the normal telephone lines for .017 euro/minute. The rate is the same for calling Europe. Here's the best part -- there is absolutely no monthly charge. It's free for computer to computer calls, and I pay a low rate to call out to the phone network. They also have a new service called Skype in which allows you to get a phone number of your choice to receive calls from the telephone network.
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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC
Old 08-18-2005, 03:11 PM   #8
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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC

Quote:
Originally Posted by yelnad
I have used Skype and it's nice. You'll want to invest in a good quality microphone and/or headset.
Can you use a normal phone headset? Where does one purchase a microphone?
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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC
Old 08-18-2005, 04:49 PM   #9
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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC

If you can plug your phone headset into your computer then yes you can use that. I use a headset with an attached microphone. You can buy them online:

http://froogle.google.com/froogle?q=...ve&sa=N&tab=wf

or from CompUSA, BestBuy or whatever computer store you like. If you also want to have audio coming out of your speakers at the same time then just pick up a y-splitter for $6 at any computer store.

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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC
Old 08-18-2005, 07:07 PM   #10
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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC

I use my puny little laptop mic (The Pinhole in the Screen) and it works great. The Sound quality is as good if not better than a phone. Like a permanent speakerphone.

Beats 10 cents a minute to Canada. I talked for an hour and a half the other day, Cost... Nada....

SWR
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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC
Old 08-18-2005, 08:52 PM   #11
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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC

Just to add some more light (or more confusion) on the subject, there are other VOIP programs as well. I just learned all of this recently so I can make it dummy-proof or I guess equal to my intelligence.

VOIP = voice-over internet protocol. Using your excess high speed bandwidth to make phone conversations. (Dial up comes in too choppy)

Skype is the big leader with nearly 150 Million downloads. Excellent quality with DSL/cable modem. However, it is proprietary (from the people who created Kazaa, a Napster like software) and if you are afraid of a virus being planted in thier software, so goes 140M people. They are now making a Skype phone adapter where if you have a router (like a cable splitter but for the internet), you can go:

Internet from Cable/phone --> Cable modem/DSL box --> router (the hours of frustration) --> one jack goes to the computer, the 2nd (will usually have 4 connections) goes to the phone adapter where you can then plug your regular phone into. Start making calls on your regular phone without sitting on the computer.

To get a phone # for people to call you, I believe is $40 euros for the yea, which is $50 US roughly, and the you pay for a bank of money and pay per minute


Some stores have just started selling Skype adapters, but living in Japan and trying to call the states, I couldn't wait. I am using a service like Vonage, which uses SIP (the telephone standard) and thus is an open system. For this, you can download like skype and start doing the pre-paid thing and/or get the phone adapter, namely Sipura, Leadtek, Linksys, and Netgear. Mine was the cheapest Sipura for $60. There are MANY companies that provide VOIP service (one can check Voxilla.com for comparisons of I think 40 companies or so).

The one service I use is stanaphone: Free NY phone # (only NY), free incoming calls and 800 #s, 2.6 cents/min to call anywhere in the US. Quality is excellent. ALL VOip companies have free calls to other patrons of the same service (skype to skype, stanaphone to stanaphone)

Other services: Gizmoproject ($5/month for incoming phone calls, but cheaper per minute)
Sunrocket - $199/yr, 2 phone #s anywhere in the US, they give you an adapter and 2 cordless phones. Unlimited calls in the US.

I haven't checked the other ones out yet, but this is all just objective advice. Due to the test run I have had with stanaphone, there is no way I am having a "land line" when I get back to the states.

Last thing, two negatives. If your internet goes down, your phone goes down too. Second, if you have a phone and answering machine combo, you won't get messages to it. It will all go to your designated email as .wav files you can listen to on the Microsoft player. No way around that and I don't know why.

I look here every few days so if you have a question, I will answer as soon as I can. Unfortunately, I still have to work.

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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC
Old 08-18-2005, 08:58 PM   #12
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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC

I've heard some negative press about people in the US who pulled their landline in favor of VOIP and couldn't call 911 in an emergency. Any truth to this?

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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC
Old 08-18-2005, 10:06 PM   #13
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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC

Quote:
Originally Posted by REWahoo!
I've heard some negative press about people in the US who pulled their landline in favor of VOIP and couldn't call 911 in an emergency. Any truth to this?

REW
True. Also true of many phone systems supplied by cable companies.

At the FCC's May 19, 2005 meeting, the FCC issued rules that require VoIP providers to deliver ANI/ALI (Automatic Number Identification/Automatic Location Identification) so they know who you are, and to provide them with VoIP/E911 service.

The FCC's Order was printed in the Federal Register on June 29, 2005, setting the actual dates of compliance for customer notification (July 29th) and full E911 service (Nov. 28th). Of course, many of those companies are now seeking delays.


Also see
http://slate.msn.com/id/2106424/
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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC
Old 08-18-2005, 10:42 PM   #14
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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC

I keep wanting to jump on the VoIP bandwagon and dump my monopoly phone company phone. It's especially attractive to me since I could get a local Vancouver number and take it with me when I went to Latin America for the winter (as long as I could get high speed internet access there).

There are really two types:

1. Software only solutions like Skype (which is by far the best). A great place to start. No monthly fee to dial out. No cost to dial other Skype users. Cheap to dial regular lines. They do also have a beta program called SkypeIn where they assign you a incoming phone number (cost 10euros for 3 months) and the calls are routed to your Skype application on your computer. SkypeIn #'s are only available in a smattering of countries so far (US included with limited area codes). This is no replacement for your home phone though really since you would pay for all your local and 800# calls per minute and you can't keep your existing # and 911 doesn't work.

2. Hardware solutions, Vonage being the industry leader. Don't need a computer for this one. You just plug a box they send you into your high speed internet line (probably cable since if you have DSL you'd still need to have a landline). Then you plug any regular phone into the box they send you. And voila! For about $25/month you have a very full featured phone line (voicemail, caller id) AND unlimited US and Canadian long distance. This is the solution that can replace your landline. Depends on the VoIP provider but you may be able to keep your current phone #, you may get 911 service (all depends on where you live). And you could take that box with you (and a phone) traveling and plug it in to a high speed cable modem (e.g. in Costa Rica) and voila! As far as your callers know you're still at home. (Of course your 911 call would be routed to your home location and not Costa Rica). You can even get multiple local #'s for an extra fee (so you could have local #'s in New York and Toronto and London for example).

The big caveat is quality really. I use Skype for some of my long distance but it's a bit finickity when dialing a regular phone #--sometimes it's very clear, sometimes muddy and I need to try again. Dialing another Skype user is generally very clear.

I haven't tried Vonage or one of it's competitors yet but I'm getting close to taking the leap. I'm still concerned I'll get occasionally flaky quality. And of course, if you internet connection is ever down, so is your phone (cable internet does seem to go down for short periods once in a while). Feedback from anyone who's using it would be great.
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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC
Old 09-01-2005, 09:10 PM   #15
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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC

I use Skype in the Middle East. I'm very satisfied. A year ago sometimes the connection wasn't the greatest - echo or couldn't get through. Rarely have that problem now (probably my PC). I use Skype out ($0.02 to any land line around the world). Very satisfied. Prior to that I incurred $3,000 of telephone bills over 2 months calling kids in States (I live in the United Arab Emirates). Talked with kids for last six months for maybe $1 (a couple of times they were not on PC). Talked with girlfriend (in Holland) for 2.5 hours yesterday - Euro3.
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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC
Old 09-02-2005, 06:01 PM   #16
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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC

I recently purchased the D-Link DVC-1100 Video teleconferencing system.* I got it for when I deploy and I can see the kids and family.* Easy to use.

Similar to VoIP but it has the video at 30 FPS.* It is wireless and I set it on top of my tv using the tv as the monitor instead of a traditional camera on a pc.* You can plug a phone into it and use just the VoIP.* It uses our high speed internet connection as the backbone.*

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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC
Old 09-08-2005, 12:54 PM   #17
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Re: Free Long Distance Phone Calls, On Your PC

I've been using at&t's callvantage, mostly because they support fax/modem over voip (something the other guys struggle with most of the time), and because they were the only company that could port my existing old landline #. A lot of broadband voip providers are limited to certain area codes and prefixes in some states only.

We like it a lot. Every feature you can think of in a phone service is bundled along with unlimited long distance for $29 a month, and you dont get slammed with $15 in taxes and surcharges.

Its true that you need to pay attention to the 911 service aspect, although unless i'm mistaken the fcc has ordered all voip providers to provide true 911 by november of this year. The problem, again unless i'm mistaken, was that the landline providers, who 'own' the 911 connection refused to allow the voip providers access to it.

As it happens to be in my area, the PSAP (public safety access point) that callvantage connects to is the same place 911 rings to. I also programmed the real alternate 911 number into the phones dialing directory and hotkeyed it to the 911 emergency button. Then I dragged out one of my old cell phones and put it on a charger in our office. If it isnt common knowledge, even old cell phones that are out of service and unpaid for can dial 911 and 611. I also put the cable modem, voip box and phone on a large UPS I got for $9 after rebate a few years ago, and that has about an hour of reserve capacity if the power goes out.

My favorite features of the callvantage service are 'do not disturb' and 'follow me'. I set the DND on 24 hours a day, and during daytime hours callers get a message to press '2' to ring their call through if they're friends or family, otherwise everything - including those annoying automated calls offering me a mortgage (is that your doing SG?) - goes directly to voicemail. Said voicemail is sent to both of my email accounts, listenable from the phone, or I can call into the vmail system from any phone anywhere. Follow Me allows me to list a bunch of phone #'s, and have the system either ring them sequentially or all at the same time if a call comes in. Nice if you're expecting a call and dont want to hand out your cell phone #.
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